Performance Characterization for a Small-Aperture Radio-Frequency Pulsar Experiment

Ryan McKnight, Zachary Arnett, Brian C. Peters, Sabrina Ugazio

Abstract: While recent studies have suggested the feasibility of radio-frequency (RF) pulsar navigation using reasonably small antenna apertures, as of yet there is no general consensus as to the level of performance that could be achieved by such a system under real-world conditions. Theoretical performance calculations depend on a large number of variables including receiver-specific parameters such as effective antenna aperture, observation time, observation frequency, receiver bandwidth, and noise sources, along with various parameters specific to the pulsar under observation, such as flux density, pulse period, and pulse width. The achievable performance is additionally subject to such real-world constraints as the local radio-frequency interference (RFI) environment, receiver hardware specifications, and available computational power. An experimental approach is therefore necessary to determine a set of reasonable parameters for a practical system, measure the performance that can be achieved using these parameters, and demonstrate the validity of theoretical models. A previous study described the motivations and preliminary design for such an experiment. This paper serves as a follow-up, providing additional detail about the experiment design. It includes details about site surveys, hardware selection, software algorithms, and error sources that must be accounted for during the data collection, as well as a performance characterization for the experiment. A full consideration of these details is an important step towards using the experiment to validate theoretical performance models.
Published in: Proceedings of the 35th International Technical Meeting of the Satellite Division of The Institute of Navigation (ION GNSS+ 2022)
September 19 - 23, 2022
Hyatt Regency Denver
Denver, Colorado
Pages: 1933 - 1941
Cite this article: McKnight, Ryan, Arnett, Zachary, Peters, Brian C., Ugazio, Sabrina, "Performance Characterization for a Small-Aperture Radio-Frequency Pulsar Experiment," Proceedings of the 35th International Technical Meeting of the Satellite Division of The Institute of Navigation (ION GNSS+ 2022), Denver, Colorado, September 2022, pp. 1933-1941. https://doi.org/10.33012/2022.18543
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