This is Skip Crilly‘s updated paper/presentation, “Radio Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence SETI is fun ! Geographically-spaced Synchronized Signal Detection System“, updated July 2019. Skip presented it at the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers conference at Greenbank, WV on August 4, 2019. The link will open as a pdf file.
These are the slides from Dr. Richard Russel’s presentation at our May 2019 DSES Science Meeting.
During the past year, Dr. Russel led us in measuring the Doppler shifts of galactic neutral hydrogen (HI). Building on his experience from navigation, he then developed his ideas on how to use HI Doppler shift measurements to navigate from star to star across galactic space.
This year we are undertaking measuring the pulse time of pulsars. Pulsars are understood to be the star remnants of supernova explosions. They become what are called neutron stars. The supernovas compress the stars tightly into enormous densities so that their matter become neutrons, and the stars are only about 7 miles in diameter. Due to the conservation of angular momentum, their spin increases very rapidly. The youngest rotate with periods of miliseconds. Their magnetic poles are often offset from their spin axes. Electrons spin rapidly along the outgoing magnetic field lines of the poles, producing synchrotron radiation, which in turn produce broad band radio signals. If a magnetic pole is oriented so that it points at Earth during the rotation, we receive a radio pulse, and maybe pulses at other wavelengths too. (That is how pulsars were first discovered during the late 1960s.)
The pulses are very regular. But the spin of the pulsars gradually lose energy and slow down over time too.
Dr. Russel took his ideas for navigation, and now he has developed a concept for doing interstellar navigation using pulsars as references. That’s what this slide set is about. He just submitted a paper on the topic to the journal of the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers.
– ed. Gary Agranat
Deep Space Exploration Society members Bill Miller, Gary Agranat, and Tony Bigbee participated as judges at the 2019 Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair. The Fair was held at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs University Center building on Saturday February 23rd. This year 115 students from 20 schools presented projects. The purpose of the fair is to encourage students to take more active interest in the study of science and mathematics, to encourage experiment and consideration of science careers, and to provide a means of reward and recognition. Informally the fair gives students an opportunity to interact with and get helpful feedback from specialists already in the fields.
Bill and Gary were at the science fair to judge and award prizes specifically offered by DSES. The prizes were offered to encourage projects related to astronomy and radio. However any outstanding STEM project related closely enough to the fields were considered. Bill and Gary interviewed 17 students in 16 projects at the fair, at the middle school and high school levels, with most of the topics in physical sciences or engineering. A scoring criteria was used based on the qualities of the ideas, hypotheses, methods, data, and lessons learned.
DSES awarded one Senior Division prizes and two Junior Division prizes:
For outstanding senior division project we gave a certificate and $100 to Mark Bloomfield. Mark received 6 additional special awards from other organizations, and he placed 3rd in the Fair’s Senior Physical Sciences category.
• Mark Bloomfield [grade 11] [project SC9], Coronado High School/David Bloomfield: ‘‘Charged up: Testing lithium ion battery performance using a Raspberry Pi load cell’’
For the two Junior Division prizes we gave a certificate and $50 each to Hailey Kressen and Benjamin Homan.
• Hailey Kressin [grade8] [project 8E10], The Classical Academy JHS/Candus Muir: ‘‘A sixth sense: Omnidirectional presence detection system’’. Hailey received 6 additional special awards, and she placed 2nd in the Grade 8 Physical Sciences & Engineering category.
• Benjamin Homan [8E1], Monument Academy/Karl Brown: ‘‘Does pressure affect carbon dioxide absorption by polyethyleneimine?’’ Benjamin received 5 additional special awards, and he placed 4th in the Grade 8 Physical Sciences & Engineering category.
Tony participated as a general Award Judge for the Fair itself. He judged middle school social and behavioral science projects.
Tony took a few minutes to take some photos. The first three photos are from when Bill and Gary interviewed Connor Takenaka about his cybersecurity project. The third includes Tony.
Bill is show interviewing Josh Nakka and Katelynn Salmon for their Senior level science project “Engineering a portable refreshable braille device for improved communication.” Gary is interviewing Jenna Salvat for her Senior level science project “A geothermal analysis of metamorphic lithologies surrounding Cripple Creek and Victor Diatreme”.
Projects Bill and Gary interviewed:
- “Shields Up” by Samantha Cerniglia. She tested the ability of several materials to block cosmic rays. She built a cloud chamber to do the tests.
- “LED Lights: Hero or Zero” by Michael Wu. He tested energy efficiency savings claims of a set of consumer LED lights, and found those fell short.
- “Energy Efficiency” by Samantha Schaefer. She tested the effects of placing different colored filters on solar energy panels.
- “This Will Blow You Away” by Levi Archambault. He tested the efficiency of windmills with different number of blades, with different wind speed conditions.
- “Prevent Basement Floods” by Austin Cellar. He designed and tested a low cost device to detect basement water leaks and flooding, and send an alarm.
- “Cleaning glasses with portable ultrasonics” by Ty Rockey. He researched, designed, and tested a low cost device to clean eye glasses using water cavitation.
- “Does Pressure Affect Carbon Dioxide Absorption by Polyethyleneimine (PEI)” by Benjamin Homan. He tested the ability of PEI to absorb carbon dioxide at sea level and 7350 foot elevation pressures. He utilized previous research by others and theory that predicted lower pressure would result in less absorption, due to fewer number of molecules per volume. The material would be applicable to CO2 scrubbers in submarines and spacecraft. Benjamin won one of our two Junior Division prizes.
- “Analyzing how various hydroelectric designs can ameliorate the accessibility of tides” by Chandler Wilburn. He tried to design and test an alternate way to generate electrical power from tides, using a large pressure plate instead of flow past a turbine.
- “Neodymium field slide” by Amir Laarja. He tested different position configurations of magnets in a generator, to test differences in efficiency.
- “A sixth sense: Omni-directional presence detection system” by Hailey Kressin. She designed and tested a system to detect the presence of approaching objects within 1.5 meters in 1 second, to aid people who are blind. Hailey won one of our two Junior Division prizes.
- “Cybersecurity: Defending our Computers” by Connor Takenaka. He tested the effectiveness of different length and complexity passwords to prevent or delay hacking.
- “Variable scintillation frequency in muon detection” by Xander Duvall.
- “Using Solar Radiation” by Erick Lopez. He tested the effectiveness of several designs for homes to retain heat from solar heating.
- “Engineering a portable low-cost braille device for improved communication” by Josh Nakka and Katelynn Salmon.
- “A geothermal analysis of metamorphic lithologies surrounding the Cripple Creek and Victor diatreme” by Jenna Salvat.
- “Charged up: Testing lithium ion battery performance using a Raspberry Pi load cell” by Mark Bloomfield. He developed a Raspberry Pi constant load cell to test how temperature, drain rate, and charging patterns affected energy recovered in charging. Mark won our Senior Division Prize.
Bill presented the DSES awards at the science fair awards ceremony on the following Tuesday, February 26th.
The Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair created this nice video about the activities and the students in the science fair:
2019 Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair [https://vimeo.com/319543131].
Skip Crilly gave this presentation to the New Hampshire Astronomical Society, February 8, 2019.
Geographically-spaced Synchronized Signal Detection System (Please click to read pdf presentation.)
Abstract: Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) is a confounding problem in radio SETI, as false positives are introduced into receiver signals. Various methods exist to attempt to excise suspected RFI, with a possibility that true positives are rejected, and that un-excised RFI remain as false positives. Uncertain far side-lobe antenna patterns add to the uncertainty. To ameliorate the RFI problem, a system having geographically-spaced simultaneous and synchronized reception has been implemented. A radio telescope at the Green Bank Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia has been combined with a radio telescope of the Deep Space Exploration Society, near Haswell, Colorado to implement a spatial filter having a thrice-Moon-distance transmitter rejection. Approximately 135 hours of simultaneous synchronized pulse observations have been captured from November 2017 through February 2019. This presentation describes the problem, observation system, observed results and a proposed hypothesis to be subjected to attempts at refutation through further experimentation and RFI and ETI transmitter signal model development.
Two wave audio files from the presentation, “Tones” and “Slow Tones”:
Dr. Richard Russel put together this slide set about the latest results from this month’s observing. Contents:
- Galactic Rotation Rate Results
- Earth’s Position in Solar System
- Complete HI spectrum Measurements from all observing trips
Dr. Russel is now utilizing Doppler shift measurements, and hence velocity, to also estimate the Earth’s position in the Solar System.
DSES Observation Trip December 2018 [Click to open the pptx slide show file.]
These are the presentations from our DSES Science Meeting on November 26, 2018.
Dr. Richard Russel reported on the latest results from the Milky Way galactic rotation rate observations of November 16. Also, he compiled all of the observations of individual radio sources done with the 60-foot antenna with the Spectracyber 1420 MHz receiver. He includes descriptions of the objects and photos, as well frequency plot observations.
Dayton Jones K6DJ talked with the group about Small Antenna Calibration at JPL.
Geographically-spaced Synchronized Signal Detecction System – Simultaneous SETI Observations Oct 2017 to Nov 2018. Please click to read the PDF presentation.
Prepared for the Deep Space Exploration Society by Skip Crilly. Revised November 8, 2018.
This is an updated revision of Skip Crilly’s slide set, originally presented last summer. Skip points out that the revision includes a summary of the pulses of November 2017 through November 2018.. Two newer NRAO 5690 plots in the presentation show the very stable performance of the telescope, and the narrower Plishner beamwidth.
These are the slides from Dr. Richard Russel’s presentation about the radio astronomy observations conducted at the Plishner site during the previous Saturday, September 22. The observing period was chosen for Saturday afternoon, when the Milky Way around the galactic center was starting to rise high enough in the east. Observations were done using the Spectracyber at the 1420 MHZ neutral hydrogen I (HI) frequency.
Goals for the observing included 1) using our in-house Radio Astronomy Guide as an observing reference, 2) seeking strong enough sources listed in our guide that could serve as calibration references, 3) scanning perpendicularly across the plane of the Milky Way to observe changes in hydrogen signal while pointed inside and outside the galactic plane, 4) starting a series of doppler shift measurements along the plane of the Milky Way at galactic longitudes 10 degrees apart.
Some sources were found, but some were not. Among those found were Centarus A, Sagitarius A, and Virgo A. A number of peaks in the hydrogen signal were seen where we didn’t have any reference information that sources were present. The scan perpendicularly across the galactic plane showed the higher concentration of hydrogen in the galactic plane. We likely also detected the weaker signal of hydrogen known to be above and below the plane in certain regions. For this observing set, some sources like Sag-A were so strong that they oversaturated the voltage scale we had initially set. Doppler shifts were measured at 5 points, 10 degrees apart, along the galactic plane. Please see the slides for details.
Please click the link to see the power point slide show.
On the site for the observing trip last Saturday were Rich Russel, Jay Wilson, Gary Agranat, and Steve Plock.
Participants: Steve Plock, Ed Corn, Rich Russel, Dave Molter, Gary Agranat.
Summary and photos by Gary Agranat.
We worked at the Plishner Radio Telescope site on Saturday August 25, 2018. One motivation was to proceed with needed infrastructure work before the cold of winter returns. Another motivation was to follow up on the observations we made during the Open House with the 60-foot antenna. In addition, the antenna tuner for the bunker ham radio station was still not running, and needed to be checked. Here is a summary of what we did, with some photos.
1. Ed and Steve replaced the outflow hose from the ramp sump with one more durable (including durable against mice). Ed tested that the outflow did drain away from the ramp area. We placed a new aluminum manhole cover on the sump access (vs the original steel one), fabricated by Steve.
2. Ed moved the Internet hotspot to the bunker. The hotspot was used by Gary while testing and operating the ham radio station.
3. Dave brought 20 x 60-pound bags of cement, and used all of them to continue to repair/rebuild the ramp retaining wall. He made considerable progress extending the base of the wall. The higher the base of the wall reaches up the ramp, the less rain sediment will clog the sump pump. Dave stayed until late in the evening, until around sunset. Gary stayed with him and gave some help.
4. Rich brought the SpectraCyber 1420 MHz Hydrogen Line Spectrometer, and used it to continue to test the functioning and ability of the SpectraCyber together with the System 1 pointing system on the 60-foot antenna. Rich later showed Gary how to steer the dish antenna, and how to measure and record neutral hydrogen data. By the end of the day we located and measured several radio sources in the Sagitarius region. And we made a systematic scan almost perpendicular to the Milky Way galactic plane, in order to measure neutral hydrogen while pointing away from and in the plane. A more detailed discussion follows later in this post.
5. Gary tested the setup of the newly installed auto tuner for the FT-897 in the bunker ham station. With some adjusting and checking of cable connections, the tuner was found to be functioning OK. Gary took the opportunity to operate K0PRT in the QSO Parties this weekend for Kansas, Ohio, Hawaii, and for the US & Canadian islands, making about 30 contacts, on SSB and CW, on 40, 20, and 15 meters. Signal reports were mostly good, which seemed to indicate the combined FT-897 + tuner system is working OK. Gary wrote some Guidance Notes for using the tuner, and left those next to the tuner.
6. We received 20 QSL cards in the mail from the Open House special event station. Myron passed them on through Ed to Gary. Gary responded to all of them, and sent in the mail our QSL card responses to all by Monday.
Next are some photos of our work. Then follows a more detailed discussion about the SpectraCyber observations with the 60-foot antenna.
SpectraCyber observations with the 60-foot antenna
Rich brought the SpectraCyber 1420 MHz Hydrogen Line Spectrometer, to follow up on the successful observations we started to make with the 60-foot antenna during our Open House 2 weeks before. We used the System 1 pointing system. I later joined him by mid afternoon, after I finished my other work, and this is a report of what we did.
We started by searching for several sources with flux density values higher than 200 Janskies. However, at first no sources were found. The plane of the Milky Way was at that time very low along the southern horizon. There were few strong sources on our list available to look for at that time.
A little later, we just about ran into the Milky Way without looking for it, when the galactic plane rose higher. The signal trace of the SpectraCyber indicated the change: pointed away from the galactic plane, the signal trace stayed near about 3 volts, varying probably with noise, but not by more than a volt. Once pointing at the galactic plane, the voltage trace increased from about 5 to 7 volts (up to about 4 volts above the noise floor). The signal consistently showed a peak at about the center of the trace, at about the frequency of neutral hydrogen. We have not calibrated the SpectraCyber, and so we don’t exactly what frequency we were peaking. (The actual spectral line frequency is 1420.40575 MHz. And we may be seeing some doppler shift in our measurement.)
We then looked for several strong sources in the Sagitarius region, which by then had risen. We successfully found several, including:
- Sagitarius A, the center of our Milky Way galaxy. The radio emission is thought to be from the secondary effects of a black hole there.
- CTB 37, a supernova remnant about 20,000 light years away (see https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/chandra/ctb-37a.html.) Our signal trace showed three peaks through most of our scans. Our interpretation is that the central peak is the original supernova remnant. The other peaks would be the doppler-shifted material outflowing away and towards us, following the supernova explosion.
- The Sagitarius Star Cloud Messier 24, with a colder hydrogen cloud closer along the line of sight that absorbs some of the M24 hydrogen signal. This is the radio source Tony Bigbee pointed to during our Open House 2 weeks earlier. The signal trace has a distinctive dip, which had been identified in data from the Parkes Observatory in Australia. And as Tony has discussed, was used in the past by the RASDR2 team as an engineering detection test. The dip in signal is interpreted as a hydrogen cloud along the line of sight that is colder than the background source. It absorbs the background signal and then reradiates it out, but in all directions, hence the net signal to us is reduced. We used the RA & Dec location coordinates recorded during the Open House. We found the source again without difficulty.
We used the System 1 computer display to read the angles our 60-foot antenna was pointed to. The display showed coordinates in both azimuth & elevation (Earth ground reference), and Right Ascension & Declination (celestial sky coordinate reference). We turned the antenna with the manual steering controls. At this time we do not have automatic tracking ability. But we were able to reasonably stay on our targets with continual manual adjustments. What we more often did was we found our source, then allowed the antenna to scan at the set elevation as the Earth rotated, and as a result get a short scan along a line of Declination. We then moved the elevation up and down slightly, to see differences in the scans a little north and south. We used this technique also to hone in on targets.
We then manually scanned across the Milky Way galactic plane, to obtain a slice from 16 to 20 hours Right Ascension, along the declination of -05 degrees. We stopped at intervals of 30 minutes Right Ascension (e.g., 17h 00 min, 17h 30 min, 18h 00 min, …), to let the SpectraCyber take full scans.
Our scan cut a steep acute angle through the width of the galactic plane, going across the constellations of Ophiuchus, the north edge of Scutum, and the southern part of Aquila. We therefore started and ended at angles pointed “above” and “below” from the galactic plane, and scanned across the galactic plane in between.
Since we were pointing to the southeast (and not due south), if we moved azimuth while maintaining elevation, the declination still changed. And so to keep on the -05 degree declination line, we had to adjust azimuth and elevation together.
DSES Science Meeting August 27, 2018 Follow Up
On the following Monday we had our monthly DSES Science Meeting at the home of Rich Russel.
At the meeting we discussed the observations we made with the 60-foot antenna two days earlier.
Tony Bigbee then also presented deeper details about his RASDR4 (Radio Astronomy Software Defined Radio). And he gave us more background about the earlier RASDR2 observations of Messier 24, with the dip in frequency. And he showed how he researched the earlier Parkes observatory data to find useable results and plots for us to compare to.
– 73, Gary Agranat, WA2JQZ
Editor’s note: During the DSES Open House on the weekend of August 11, 2018, three receiver systems were tested on the 60-foot dish antenna. Dr. Richard Russel reports on their successful results, and he shows what we see in our data plots. Some highlights to point out:
- The Spectracyber definitively observed the neutral hydrogen of the Milky Way as the beam width completely crossed the galactic plane.
- The RASDR4 observed a known neutral hydrogen radio source, which has a closer cloud along the line of sight that absorbs some of the hydrogen signal. The distinctive signal feature is known from published data by the Parkes Radio Observatory in Australia.
- The RASDR2 detected a 1296 MHz beacon set up at the home of a member about 80 miles away. This is our first definitive detection of a beacon at 1296 MHz.
-Gary Agranat, website editor.
Open House Observations using the 60-foot Dish Antenna
The DSES and Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers (SARA) teams installed three different receivers onto the 60-foot dish during the open house.
Successful Installation and Testing of the DSES Spectracyber Neutral Hydrogen Receiver.
The Spectracyber was installed on the 60-foot dish during the DSES Open House on August 11, 2018.
The Spectracyber measures 1420.406 MHz +- 600 KHz. The observation was taken while passing the galactic plane at RA: 19hr 5 Min, Dec: 6 degrees 0 Min.
The observation shows a significant signal to noise ratio as seen below.
Follow-on observations will allow for measurement of the rotation rate of the Milky Way and Solar System!
RASDR4 Receiver Successful Observation of Hydrogen Absorption Line
Tony Bigbee used his RASDR4 on the 60-foot dish to observe this hydrogen absorption line at RA: 18.15hrs, Dec:-20 deg.
This target is a hydrogen source with a cloud of material between the source and Earth that absorbs the hydrogen energy resulting in a drop off of signal as shown below.
1296 MHz Beacon Observation using a RASDR2
Bogdan Vacaliuc installed a RASDR2 onto the 60-foot dish and was able to observe the 1296 MHZ beacon at Ray Uberecken’s house, about 80 statute miles distance to the west-northwest. This observation helped verify the azimuth pointing accuracy of the 60-foot dish.