Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex

Robledo de Chavela, Spain

Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex

Robledo de Chavela, Spain
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Rizzo J.R.,CSIC - National Institute of Aerospace Technology | Gutierrez Bustos M.,CSIC - National Institute of Aerospace Technology | Kuiper T.B.H.,Jet Propulsion Laboratory | Cernicharo J.,CSIC - National Institute of Aerospace Technology | And 2 more authors.
Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering | Year: 2012

A joint collaborative project was recently developed to provide the Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex with a state-of-the-art wideband backend. This new backend provides from 100MHz to 6 GHz of instantaneous bandwidth, and spectral resolutions from 6 to 200 kHz. The backend includes a new intermediate-frequency processor, as well as a FPGA-based FFT spectrometer, which manage thousands of spectroscopic channels in real time. All these equipment need to be controlled and operated by a common software, which has to synchronize activities among affected devices, and also with the observing program. The final output should be a calibrated spectrum, readable by standard radio astronomical tools for further processing. The developed software at this end is named "Spectroscopic Data Acquisition Interface" (SDAI). SDAI is written in python 2.5, using PyQt4 for the User Interface. By an ethernet socket connection, SDAI receives astronomical information (source, frequencies, Doppler correction, etc.) and the antenna status from the observing program. Then it synchronizes the observations at the required frequency by tuning the synthesizers through their USB ports; finally SDAI controls the FFT spectrometers through UDP commands sent by sockets. Data are transmitted from the FFT spectrometers by TCP sockets, and written as standard FITS files. In this paper we describe the modules built, depict a typical observing session, and show some astronomical results using SDAI. © 2012 SPIE.


Rizzo J.R.,CSIC - National Institute of Aerospace Technology | Pedreira A.,CSIC - National Institute of Aerospace Technology | Gutierrez Bustos M.,CSIC - National Institute of Aerospace Technology | Sotuela I.,Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex | And 10 more authors.
Astronomy and Astrophysics | Year: 2012

Context. The antennas of NASA's Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex (MDSCC) in Robledo de Chavela are available as single-dish radio astronomical facilities during a significant percentage of their operational time. Current instrumentation includes two antennas of 70 and 34 m in diameter, equipped with dual-polarization receivers in K (18-26 GHz) and Q (38-50 GHz) bands, respectively. Until mid-2011, the only backend available in MDSCC was a single spectral autocorrelator, which provides bandwidths from 2 to 16 MHz. The limited bandwidth available with this autocorrelator seriously limited the science one could carry out at Robledo. Aims. We have developed and built a new wideband backend for the Robledo antennas, with the objectives (1) to optimize the available time and enhance the efficiency of radio astronomy in MDSCC; and (2) to tackle new scientific cases that were impossible to investigate with the existing autocorrelator. Methods. The features required for the new backend include (1) a broad instantaneous bandwidth of at least 1.5 GHz; (2) high-quality and stable baselines, with small variations in frequency along the whole band; (3) easy upgradability; and (4) usability for at least the antennas that host the K-and Q-band receivers. Results. The backend consists of an intermediate frequency (IF) processor, a fast Fourier transform spectrometer (FFTS), and the software that interfaces and manages the events among the observing program, antenna control, the IF processor, the FFTS operation, and data recording. The whole system was end-to-end assembled in August 2011, at the start of commissioning activities, and the results are reported in this paper. Frequency tunings and line intensities are stable over hours, even when using different synthesizers and IF channels; no aliasing effects have been measured, and the rejection of the image sideband was characterized. Conclusions. The new wideband backend fulfills the requirements and makes better use of the available time for radio astronomy, which opens new possibilities to potential users. The first setup provides 1.5 GHz of instantaneous bandwidth in a single polarization, using 8192 channels and a frequency resolution of 212 kHz; upgrades under way include a second FFTS card, and two high-resolution cores providing 100 MHz and 500 MHz of bandwidth, and 16 384 channels. These upgrades will permit simultaneous observations of the two polarizations with instantaneous bandwidths from 100 MHz to 3 GHz, and spectral resolutions from 7 to 212 kHz. © 2012 ESO.


Rizzo J.R.,CSIC - National Institute of Aerospace Technology | Pedreira A.,CSIC - National Institute of Aerospace Technology | Garcia Miro C.,Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex | Sotuela I.,Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex | And 5 more authors.
Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering | Year: 2012

The NASA Deep Space Network hosts three complexes worldwide for spacecrafts tracking. The Spanish complex, the Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex (MDSCC), operates a set of highly sensitive antennas, which are used for Host Country Radio Astronomy (HCRA) during a percentage of their operational time. We have designed, developed and built a wideband backend for HCRA in MDSCC, which greatly improves its available facilities, and opens new scientific cases to be tackled. The backend is able to sample up to 6 GHz of instantaneous bandwidth, in the frequency range from 18 to 50 GHz, using two different antennas. An intermediate-frequency (IF) processor downconverts the two-polarization signals to four base-band channels of 1.5 GHz width. Digitalisation is done through a set of FPGA-based FFT spectrometers, which can provide spectral resolutions from 7 to 200 kHz, and spectral coverages from 100MHz to 1.5 GHz each. This new facility enables HCRA to afford new scientific projects, such as extragalactic radio astronomy and spectral surveys; at the same time, the available time for HC is greatly optimized. It was necessary the development of dedicated software for spectra acquisition and control of the equipment, and also the upgrading of the existing observing programs. Once end-to-end assembled, the whole backend was tested through a set of commissioning observations. In this contribution the main features of the new backend are described, including the IF processor, the FFT spectrometer and the developed software. Some astronomical results are also included. © 2012 SPIE.


Guzman-Ramirez L.,European Southern Observatory | Guzman-Ramirez L.,Leiden University | Rizzo J.R.,CSIC - National Institute of Aerospace Technology | Zijlstra A.A.,University of Manchester | And 3 more authors.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters | Year: 2016

The 3He isotope is important to many fields of astrophysics, including stellar evolution, chemical evolution, and cosmology. The isotope is produced in low-mass stars which evolve through the planetary nebula (PN) phase. 3He abundances in PNe can help test models of the chemical evolution of the Galaxy. We present the detection of the 3He+ emission line using the single dish Deep Space Station 63, towards the PN IC 418.We derived a 3He/H abundance in the range 1.74 ± 0.8 ± 10-3 to 5.8 ± 1.7 ± 10-3, depending on whether part of the line arises in an outer ionized halo. The lower value for 3He/H ratio approaches values predicted by stellar models which include thermohaline mixing, but requires that large amounts of 3He are produced inside low-mass stars which enrich the interstellar medium (ISM). However, this overpredicts the 3He abundance in H II regions, the ISM, and protosolar grains, which is known to be of the order of 10-5. This discrepancy questions our understanding of the evolution of the 3He, from circumstellar environments to the ISM. © 2016 The Authors.

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