The Australia Telescope National Facility operates three radio telescopes: the Parkes 64m Telescope, the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA), and the Mopra 22m Telescope. Scientific operation of all these is conducted by members of the investigating teams rather than by professional operators. All three can now be accessed and controlled from any location served by the internet, the telescopes themselves being unattended for part or all of the time. Here we describe the rationale, advantages, and means of implementing this operational model.
The noise of radioastronomy receivers is usually kept low by cooling the front-end into cryostats, where the internal and the external environments are interfaced by optical windows. Such dielectric windows can sistematically correlate the incoming unpolarized radiation and decorrelate its polarized component. Here, we present a study on the effects of dielectrics in high sensitivity microwave polarimetry, including a model of the induced spurious polarization, a selection of materials in term of their optical properties as well as measurements of their optical parameters.
The interesting result is that isotropic dielectrics can produce spurious polarization both when transmit anisotropic diffuse radiation or are not thermally uniform. Finally, such a model can be used to design a calibrator which generates very low polarized signal.
To measure extremely faint signals like Cosmic Microwave Background Polarization (a few percent of CMB anisotropy) it is necessary to use very high sensitivity radiometers. This means to adopt low noise cryogenic front-end and long integration times. This is the case of BaR-SPOrt (Balloon borne Radiometer for Sky Polarization Observations), an experiment designed to measure the CMB polarization at sub-degree angular scales. In the millimeter range, where coherent radiometers (polarimeters) are typically employed, usual mechanical coolers can represent a limit to the final sensitivity due to their base temperature instability. As a matter of fact, in correlation polarimeter, temperature fluctuations of the front-end devices, can both mimic a polarized signal and severely limit instrumental sensitivity. Here we discuss in detail the thermal design of the cryostat housing the instrument with particular attention to the closed loop cryocooler adopted, which is able to guarantee 6W at 77K with a stability better than 0.1 K over several hours.
The measure of the faint polarized signal of the Cosmic Microwave Background (few percent of the CMB Anisotropy) requires instruments with very low contamination from systematic effects, high stability and high sensitivity. The BaR-SPOrt experiment, in sharing with the SPOrt project on ISS, is based on analog correlation receivers with components custom designed to match all of these requirements. Here we present the architecture, the design analysis and the status of the realization of the 32 GHz receiver.
BaR-SPOrt (Balloon-borne Radiometers for Sky Polarisation
Observations) is an experiment to measure the linearly polarized
emission of sky patches at 32 and 90 GHz with sub-degree angular
resolution. It is equipped with high sensitivity correlation
polarimeters for simultaneous detection of both the U and Q stokes
parameters of the incident radiation. On-axis telescope is used to
observe angular scales where the expected polarization of the
Cosmic Microwave Background (CMBP) peaks. This project shares most
of the know-how and sophisticated technology developed for the
SPOrt experiment onboard the International Space Station. The
payload is designed to flight onboard long duration stratospheric
balloons both in the Northern and Southern hemispheres where low
foreground emission sky patches are accessible. Due to the
weakness of the expected CMBP signal (in the range of microK),
much care has been spent to optimize the instrument design with
respect to the systematics generation, observing time efficiency
and long term stability. In this contribution we present the
instrument design, and first tests on some components of the 32
SPOrt (Sky Polarization Observatory) is a space experiment to be flown on the International Space Station during Early Utilization Phase aimed at measuring the microwave polarized emission with FWHM = 7 deg, in the frequency range 22-90 GHz. The Galactic polarized emission can be observed at the lower frequencies and the polarization of Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) at 90 GHz, where contaminants are expected to be less important. The extremely low level of the CMB Polarization signal calls for intrinsically stable radiometers. The SPOrt instrument is expressly devoted to CMB polarization measurements and the whole design has been optimized for minimizing instrumental polarization effects. In this contribution we present the receiver architecture based on correlation techniques, the analysis showing its intrinsic stability and the custom hardware development carried out to detect such a low signal.