Research Experiences for Undergrads : Summer 1999
The National Science
Foundation makes possible a number of
opportunities for undergraduates to join research projects
each summer. This allows students to experience first-hand
how basic research is carried out, and to contribute
consequentially. The principal support by NSF of such
activities is through the
for Undergraduates Program.
For Summer 1999, CARA has several REU students, profiled briefly
Jonathan Mitchell and Nicholas Baicoianu, working with John Ruhl
(University of California, Santa Barbara)
Jonathan will be a senior next fall at Westmont College, and
Nicholas will be a junior next fall at UCSB.
Click to retrieve larger version.
- ACBAR dewar assembly and testing.
The ACBAR dewar is scheduled to arrive at UCSB in early July. When it
arrives, it will first be put through a cryogenic test to make sure it has
the necessary hold time, then undergo a series of modifications and
equipment additions, followed by more cryogenic and electrical tests. The
REU student will assist in the initial cryogenic test, including taking and
analyzing the cryogenic data under the supervision of a graduate student.
The REU student will then assist in the dewar modifications, including
installation of the wiring, 3He refrigerator, thermometry, and optical
window. A second series of tests of those components will be conducted,
again with the student assisting in the runs, and analyzing portions of the
data with any necessary assistance.
- ACBAR Optics preparation.
We will be preparing a new dewar mount and tertiary mirror to be taken to
Pole for testing in December 1999. The REU student will assemble the
structure including the tertiary, its mounting sled, the dewar cart, and
mockup-dewar. This student will design and fabricate a jig to mount a
laser on the fake dewar for mirror alignment, and a stage to mount a 150GHz
detector inside the fake dewar, to facilitate a 150 GHz beam map. If time
permits, the student will map the feedhorn pattern off the tertiary, at the
position of the Viper chopper.
Jon Mitchell, using the numerical mill as a
coordinate measuring machine to test the shape of the ACBAR
tertiary mirror, which was made in our shop and polished by
Jon. The mill is stepping through a grid of points, and he's
writing down the surface error shown on the dial indicator.
After taking several hundred points, he's going to find the
best fit parameters for the mirror, and quantify the rms
Jill Hanna and Prashant Malhotra, working with Giles
Novak (Northwestern U.)
Jill and Prashant are both starting graduate school in the Fall.
- Analysis of polarization data:
The task is to complete the analysis of the Kitt Peak optical stellar
polarization data taken by myself and my collaborators. The data will be
used to compare magnetic field patterns seen in the outer Galaxy via
optical polarization of starlight to those seen in the Galactic center with
SPARO in Austral winter 1999. The software may also be useful for
displaying results obtained with SPARO.
- Continued evaluation of a method for remotely sensing
liquid Helium level in SPARO:
Applying a pulse of heat and watching the resulting temperature rise is a
method for measuring liquid level that could be applied to SPARO if it can
be shown to work. The task is to conduct tests of this method using a
prototype cryostat we have at Northwestern and subsequently evaluating the
potential use of this technique in SPARO.
Working with Bill Holzapfel (University of California, Berkeley)
- ACBAR Data Acquisition Programming.
ACBAR (Arcminute Cosmology Bolometer Array Receiver) is a sensitive
optimized for observations of the cosmic microwave background. It will be
deployed at the South Pole in November 2000. The array has 16 elements,
which will be scanned rapidly across the sky. In order to make use of the
sensitive detectors used in this experiment, it will be necessary to
rapidly sample all elements of the array. It will be necessary to rapidly
archive and analyze large quantities of data.
This REU student will be responsible for adapting the less capable
data acquisition system used with the Viper telescope to the larger needs
of the ACBAR receiver. There will be two computers, a windows NT machine
that interfaces to the VXI data acquisition system, and a Linux machine
responsible for archiving serving and analyzing data. This work will
involve programming in the Labview, Labwindows and C++ environments. I
have located a qualified student and he has already begun work on this
- ACBAR Electronics Construction/Testing.
There is a second project which would is well suited to a REU
student. The ACBAR receiver will require the construction of a great deal
of custom electronics. The electronic boards have been largely designed and
are being produced in prototype runs. Upon receipt of these boards, the
student will assemble, test and debug the prototype boards. When this is
complete we will begin the production runs. The REU student will be
responsible for assembling part kits for the commercial board "stuffing"
company. The student will then test the boards to make sure that they all
meet our specifications. I have located a qualified student for this
project and he has already begun work on this project. The project goal
will be to have tested electronics by the summers end.
Michael Okelly working with Jeff Peterson (Carnegie-Mellon
- Comparison of sky noise at south pole, Atacama and Mauna Kea.
By studying time variations of 350 micron tipper data from the three sites
we can make a direct comparison of sky noise. The REU student will write
code to produce a sky noise statistic from the data streams, generate a
comparison and place a report on a web site. If continued into the
academic year the student will compare tipper results to sky noise results
from Viper, ASTRO and JCMT.
Brian Perry and James Chauvin, working with Harvey
Rhody, Professor at the Center for Imaging Science, Rochester
Institute of Technology
Brian will be a junior and James will be a senior next Fall, both
- Data Pipeline for Abu/Spirex Observatory at the South Pole.
Two REU students will be operators of the data pipeline; that is they
will work on the assembly and analysis of images from Abu Spirex.
The projects are part of a peer-reviewed program resulting from a RFP
issued by the National Optical Astronomy Observatories (NOAO) for
CARA. Assembly of images involves alignment, registration, sky
subtraction and final assembly of incoming frames into a single final
image. Analysis of images involves monitoring of sky emission levels
and photometric calibration from standard stars.
Measure of Success: Successful assembly of the frames into images is
measured by comparison of the stellar image size in individual frames to
that in the final image; by signal to noise ratio improvements consistent
with the accumulation of more data (improves like the square root of the
number of frames); and by photometric consistency demonstrated over the
duration of the experiment.
Henry H. Hsieh working with Tony Stark & Adair Lane (Center for
Astrophysics/Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory)
Henry will a Harvard University Senior this Fall. The following
comes from his proposal.
The work begun in my junior thesis paper (CI, 12CO, and 13CO Observations
of the Galactic Center) will be continued. This work will involve further
analyzing and comparing the Bell Labs and AST/RO CI, 12CO, and 13CO data
sets which each consist of 75 spectra, only five of which were chosen for
analysis in the initial paper. Analysis will consist of dividing spectral
features into the 4 categories of foreground, galactic center, molecular
ring, and ambiguous features. These data points will then be used to build
on the preliminary correlation plots presented in the aforementioned paper,
and then further research and/or analysis will be done in an attempt to
ascertain the astrophysical implications of the correlation plots.
In addition, I submitted five research proposals to the AST/RO project
approval committee in January 1999. These targeted such varied objects as
Bok globules and molecular clouds (notably one likely associated with the
giant HII region NGC 3603) in the Carina spiral arm of the Milky Way, with
specific targets and rationale detailed in the actual proposals. Upon the
approval and execution of these observation plans, I will also begin work
on processing the results of those observations.
It is highly likely that either the study of the galactic center or one of
independently submitted research proposals will form the basis of my senior
thesis for the Harvard Astronomy Department. That research which is not
included in my thesis shall be slated for journal publication.