CCERA Negotiates Access to former-NATO Satellite Ground Station

In the winter of 2022, we were contacted by the current owners of a former NATO satellite ground terminal. The facility includes a 14m satellite dish, capable of motion in both azimith and elevation.

We have already begun the work to restore some functionality to this instrument, including changing the feed structures to include a 21cm, 10.7cm, and 611MHz feed. We have a small photo-album here:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/1X39osyCfF4tBTrC8

Our near-term science goals include monitoring for a potential Black Hole merger in SDSS J1430+2303 along with FRB monitoring of the region around J1935+2154 and looking for super-giant pulses from the Crab Pulsar at J0534+2200.

On May 20, 2022, we were able to complete work to re-motorize (using new motor and controller) the elevation axis and were able to drive it under motor power up to an elevation of +20 DEG (-24 DEG in declination).

Look for more announcements as progress is made!

CCERA leaves Smiths Falls, moves to Rideau Ferry, ON

Owing to an unfortunate confluence of both corporate and municipal politics here in Smiths Falls, we were asked to vacate the premises we have occupied at the Gallipeau Centre since 2016.

We secured an access arrangement to a site near Rideau Ferry, ON that houses a private optical observatory, and 38 acres of flat, clear land.

The new site is much more “primitive”, and many of our activities have had to be scaled-back and/or moved to our respective private residences.

Work to restore our science capabilities is on-going, and expect further announcements as the spring and summer of 2021 progress.

CCERA and Carleton University begin collaboration

CCERA and the Physics department at Carleton University have begun a collaborative effort in support of their undergraduate astrophysics program.

In this program, 3rd-year astrophysics students will gain remote access to CCERA’s instrumentation and data-feeds in support of a lab-based radio astronomy segment in the 3rd-year astrophysics program.

The program is coordinated for Carleton University by Etienne Rollin and Penka Matanska, both instructors in the physics department at Carleton.

Adjustments to pulsar array

Marcus Leech went “up top” to make some elevation adjustments to the now-twice-the-size pulsar array,
and added a cross-brace to the “upper” side of the array to stiffen it.

There’s been a fair amount of RFI on the 611MHz radio-astronomy ‘window’, so we’re trying to track it down.

Meteor-cam now in operation on the roof

Gary Atkins moved one of two all-sky camera systems onto the roof late last week. These camera systems are designed for detecting meteors, and we’ll be joining a “network” of such meteor cams around the world.

We’ll have a live feed of the camera pointed to from the website soon–but there are a few housekeeping details that need to be taken care of first.

We may also put a regular webcam “up top” just to show images of the antennae up on the roof. It will be boring, most of the time 🙂

Roof now has 21cm telescope on it as well

Gary Atkins and Marcus Leech moved the 21cm dish “up top” today, so that it can join the pulsar antenna.

We used a rope and brute force. This won’t work for our 1.2m dishes and their mount pods–not without a hoist of some sort.

The next antennae to go “up top” will likely be our UHF interferometer antennae, probably spaced about 30m apart or more.

Pulsar monitor undergoing overnight checkout

The pulsar antenna is now plugged into the pulsar receiver system, which consists of a pair of AirSpy SDR receivers, fed with a high-quality 10MHz OCXO timebase.

We’re running a pulsar-specific flow-graph, written by Marcus Leech, and using Gnu Radio underneath.

There are many unknowns–we don’t know if the ambient noise level is low enough without aggressive filtering, we don’t know if our antenna effective aperture is quite up to the task. This will be a useful test, but a negative result cannot be interpreted to mean “won’t work”.

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