Analysis of Small-Aperture Radio-Frequency Pulsar Data

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

Abstract: Pulsars have been known for more than half a century as possible time references which could also be used for navigation purposes. Both X-ray and radio-frequency (RF) signals have been considered for different applications. However, the use of pulsar signals has some practical challenges, mainly due to the low signal power. While X-ray systems may be bulky, complex, and expensive, RF systems may involve large antenna apertures or even longer observation times. However, modern technology such as powerful computation and storage capability as well as low noise RF amplification at accessible costs are making RF pulsar timing and navigation increasingly practical. The possible applications could be diverse. For example, several critical infrastructure applications, such as electrical power grids, require an accurate absolute timing reference, making apparent the need for backups to GNSS timing. On another hand, pulsar navigation could enable new opportunities for deep space applications, which is becoming increasingly relevant. The performance of a RF pulsar-based system for navigation and timing applications depends on a multitude of hardware and software parameters. In previous work (McKnight et al., 2022) the authors proposed and analyzed the preliminary design of a practical experiment to collect RF pulsar data and perform timing measurements. In this work, the data processing techniques needed for the experiment are developed, and the performance is evaluated using simulated data based on the proposed hardware design.
Published in: Proceedings of the 2024 International Technical Meeting of The Institute of Navigation
January 23 - 25, 2024
Hyatt Regency Long Beach
Long Beach, California
Pages: 770 - 777
Cite this article: McKnight, Ryan, Peters, Brian C., Arnett, Zachary, Ugazio, Sabrina, "Analysis of Small-Aperture Radio-Frequency Pulsar Data," Proceedings of the 2024 International Technical Meeting of The Institute of Navigation, Long Beach, California, January 2024, pp. 770-777.
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