P18571: Sunspot Radio Telescope III

Problem Definition

Table of Contents

Team Vision for Problem Definition Phase

To establish an understanding of the problem, the Council moved to study the work of the previous sunspot telescope teams, devise a set of interview questions for the customer, and conduct several informal and one formal interview with the customer. Results from these activities were documented and used to plan and outline future tasks needed to solve the customer's needs.

Project Summary

The sun emits the light and heat necessary for life on Earth. However, it also emits radiation outside the visible spectrum as well as energetic particles. These emissions can impact satellites and other man-made instruments, causing momentary failure or destruction, and even electrical blackouts. Some solar events are not typically viewable in the visible spectrum but do emit light in the radio spectrum. Because particle emissions take much longer to reach the Earth than RF, a radio telescope provides an early warning about incoming solar weather so that sensitive infrastructure including satellites and power grids can be protected. There is a lack of dedicated radio telescopes in the Northern Continental United States. This hole is to be filled by a new installation in Ionia, New York. A prototype was developed during previous projects but is not currently operational and requires additional features to be useful.

The goals of this project are getting the radio telescope online and operational with a user friendly GUI, subsystems for self-calibration, RF filtering, a visible spectrum feed, and data upload for analysis. The data is to be uploaded to stakeholder’s servers in Zurich. The end product must be remotely operable from RIT, provide accurate data, and be tolerant for environmental exposure, including tolerance of power failure without data loss.

This project is a continuation of the work done by teams P15571 and 17571. The previous teams produced a hardware solution capable of automatically tracking the sun in all seasons. Our work involves improving the reliability of the tracking system, processing collected RF signals to filter noise, adding an intuitive GUI for night-time radio astronomy, implementing data upload and backup solutions, and providing documentation for maintenance and use. At the end of the project term, the solar telescope will be fully functional and installed at the ASRAS site.

Use Cases

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Project Goals and Key Deliverables

Customer Requirements (Needs)

Customer Requirement # Item Priority
CR1 System is integrated and operational by the end of the school year A
CR2 GUI for non-technical operator A
CR3 Self-Calibration A
CR4 Day operations fully autonomous A
CR5 Integrate UPS hardware into normal operation B
CR6 Noise Filtration B
CR7 Robustness/Reliability B
CR8 Documentation: Maintenance and Operation B
CR9 Data uploads to Zurich B
CR10 System handles failure modes B
CR11 Expand capabilities to top 40 emitters C
CR12 CCD type image processing for RF data C
CR13 Data Backup C
CR14 Visual Spectrum Scope D
CR15 Server for Data backup D
CR16 Operation Indicator Light D

These requirements were determined from our Customer Interview, our Project Readiness Package, and the Detailed Tasks Document provided by our customer

The full spreadsheet of customer and engineering requirements can be accessed here.

Engineering Requirements (Metrics & Specifications)

Eng. Requirement Number Importance Source Function Engineering Requirement (Metric) Unit of Measure Marginal value Ideal value
ER1 A CR1 Functionality Hardware integration Pass/Fail Hardware connected and functional Hardware integrated and functional. System is robust.
ER2 A CR1, CR2 Ease-of-use Single Executable for all functions Method Standalone File Called by LabView Seamless Integration with LabView
ER3 A CR2 Accessibility Point and click GUI Frustration Medium Low
ER4 A CR3, CR4 Ease-of-use Auto Calibration Method Manual Start Fully Autonomous
ER5 A CR11 Safety/Reliability Verify ESD grounding Pass/Fail Fail Pass
ER6 B CR10 Noise Reduction Noise filtration dBm TBD TBD
ER7 B CR11 Reliability Spare parts Coverage Consumables+Likely Points of Failure Complete duplicate for backup
ER8 B CR11 Resist Environmental Conditions Water Resistance IP Rating IP54 IP65
ER9 B CR11 Resist Environmental Conditions Dust Resistance IP Rating IP54 IP65
ER10 B CR11 Resist Environmental Conditions Snow/Ice Rating Nema Rating Nema 3 Nema 3S
ER11 B CR11 Resist Environmental Conditions Lightning Suppression Volts 90 90
ER12 B CR11 Resist Environmental Conditions Operational Temperature Range deg C (-10:30) (-32:40)
ER13 B CR11 Resist Environmental Conditions Adverse weather mode Method Manual Trigger System Detection
ER14 B CR12 Ease-of-use Documentation Coverage User Manual User, Service, and Step-by-Step Instruction Manual
ER15 B CR4, CR13 Data Security Data transfer to Zurich server Frequency Daily Every 15 minutes
ER16 B "CR4, CR5, CR9, CR11" Reliability+Data security Auto-shutdown during power outage Pass/Fail Auto Shutdown only Auto shutdown and auto startup when power is restored
ER17 C CR4, CR9 Data Security Auto backup to ASRAS Server Pass/Fail No auto-backup Auto-backup to ASRAS server
ER18 C CR6 Research Track top 40 emitters in the night sky Number of emitters Any 40
ER19 C CR9 Data Security Swappable Data Drives Method Manual Local server available, no need for swapping
ER20 D CR11 Safety RoHS Compliance RoHS Compatible Compliant
ER21 D CR15, CR16 Safety/Reliability Operation Indicator Light Method Charged by main power Charged by solar power
ER22 D CR7 Ease-of-use Visible spectrum scope Pass/Fail Visible snapshot pulled from web Visible spectrum of the sun displayed in GUI
The Engineering Requirements were determined by analyzing the customer requirements, the exisiting hardware, and the location to understand what it will take for the telescope to perform it's necessary functions.

The full spreadsheet of customer and engineering requirements can be accessed here.


Some factors that may limit this project include:

Design Review Materials

Design Review Presentation

Plans for next phase

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