The ALMA 2030 Development Roadmap defines the long-term scientific objectives and serves as a guide for the development activity for the upgrade of hardware, software, and analysis tools in order to enhance the future observing capabilities of ALMA. A working group was established to define a set of consistent system level technical goals in order to guide the ongoing and future ALMA technical development effort. The working group has prepared an updated set of technical goals for Front-end and Digitizer products to enable the scientific needs as stipulated in the ALMA 2030 Development Roadmap. This manuscript describes the working group’s considerations of system trade-offs and feasibility studies and presents tentative specifications arrived at for some of the key technical requirement goals.
The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is the world's largest millimeter/submillimeter telescope and provides unprecedented sensitivities and spatial resolutions. To achieve the highest imaging capabilities, interferometric phase calibration for the long baselines is one of the most important subjects: The longer the baselines, the worse the phase stability becomes because of turbulent motions of the Earth's atmosphere, especially, the water vapor in the troposphere. To overcome this subject, ALMA adopts a phase correction scheme using a Water Vapor Radiometer (WVR) to estimate the amount of water vapor content along the antenna line of sight. An additional technique is phase referencing, in which a science target and a nearby calibrator are observed by turn by quickly changing the antenna pointing. We conducted feasibility studies of the hybrid technique with the WVR phase correction and the antenna Fast Switching (FS) phase referencing (WVR+FS phase correction) for the ALMA 16 km longest baselines in cases that (1) the same observing frequency both for a target and calibrator is used, and (2) higher and lower frequencies for a target and calibrator, respectively, with a typical switching cycle time of 20 s. It was found that the phase correction performance of the hybrid technique is promising where a nearby calibrator is located within roughly 3◦ from a science target, and that the phase correction with 20 s switching cycle time significantly improves the performance with the above separation angle criterion comparing to the 120 s switching cycle time. The currently trial phase calibration method shows the same performance independent of the observing frequencies. This result is especially important for the higher frequency observations because it becomes difficult to find a bright calibrator close to an arbitrary sky position. In the series of our experiments, it is also found that phase errors affecting the image quality come from not only the water vapor content in the lower troposphere but also a large structure of the atmosphere with a typical cell scale of a few tens of kilometers.
In a radio interferometer, the geometrical antenna positions are determined from measurements of the observed delay to each antenna from observations across the sky of many point sources whose positions are known to high accuracy. The determination of accurate antenna positions relies on accurate calibration of the dry and wet delay of the atmosphere above each antenna. For the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA), with baseline lengths up to 15 kilometers, the geography of the site forces the height above mean sea level of the more distant antenna pads to be significantly lower than the central array. Thus, both the ground level meteorological values and the total water column can be quite different between antennas in the extended configurations. During 2015, a network of six additional weather stations was installed to monitor pressure, temperature, relative humidity and wind velocity, in order to test whether inclusion of these parameters could improve the repeatability of antenna position determinations in these configurations. We present an analysis of the data obtained during the ALMA Long Baseline Campaign of October through November 2015. The repeatability of antenna position measurements typically degrades as a function of antenna distance. Also, the scatter is more than three times worse in the vertical direction than in the local tangent plane, suggesting that a systematic effect is limiting the measurements. So far we have explored correcting the delay model for deviations from hydrostatic equilibrium in the measured air pressure and separating the partial pressure of water from the total pressure using water vapor radiometer (WVR) data. Correcting for these combined effects still does not provide a good match to the residual position errors in the vertical direction. One hypothesis is that the current model of water vapor may be too simple to fully remove the day-to-day variations in the wet delay. We describe possible new avenues of improvement, which include recalibrating the baseline measurement datasets using the contemporaneous measurements of the water vapor scale height and temperature lapse rate from the oxygen sounder, and applying more accurate measurements of the sky coupling of the WVRs.
A millimeter wave source derived from a phase modulated optical signal has been developed. The spectral purity and phase control
of the phase of the source allowed it to be used as a local oscillator with an astronomical millimeter wave interferometric array. The
phase and amplitude stability of the correlated signals of the array are comparable to that produced by Gunn based local oscillators.
The system is explained in the following article first as a simple open loop system and then as a more complex closed loop device
where the phase is controlled. A mathematical description is given which predicts system behavior. The telescope correlator output
graphs show phase and amplitude stability.
Atmospheric water vapor causes significant undesired phase fluctuations for the SMA interferometer, particularly in its highest frequency observing band of 690 GHz. One proposed solution to this atmospheric effect is to observe simultaneously at two separate frequency bands of 230 and 690 GHz. Although the phase fluctuations have a smaller magnitude at the lower frequency, they can be measured more accurately and on shorter timescales due to the greater sensitivity of the array to celestial point source calibrators at this frequency. In theory, we can measure the atmospheric phase fluctuations in the 230 GHz band, scale them appropriately with frequency, and apply them to the data in 690 band during the post-observation calibration process. The ultimate limit to this atmospheric phase calibration scheme will be set by the instrumental phase stability of the IF and LO systems. We describe the methodology and initial results of the phase stability characterization of the IF and LO systems.
We report the measurement results and compensation of the antenna elevation angle dependences of the Submillimeter
Array (SMA) antenna characteristics. Without optimizing the subreflector (focus) positions as a
function of the antenna elevation angle, antenna beam patterns show lopsided sidelobes, and antenna efficiencies
show degradations. The sidelobe level increases and the antenna efficiencies decrease about 1% and a few %,
respectively, for every 10° change in the elevation angle at the measured frequency of 237 GHz. We therefore
obtained the optimized subreflector positions for X (azimuth), Y (elevation), and Z (radio optics) focus axes at
various elevation angles for all the eight SMA antennas. The X axis position does not depend on the elevation
angle. The Y and Z axes positions depend on the elevation angles, and are well fitted with a simple function for
each axis with including a gravity term (cosine and sine of elevation, respectively). In the optimized subreflector
positions, the antenna beam patterns show low level symmetric sidelobe of at most a few%, and the antenna
efficiencies stay constant at any antenna elevation angles. Using one set of fitted functions for all antennas,
the SMA is now operating with real-time focusing, and showing constant antenna characteristics at any given
Efficient operation of a submillimeter interferometer requires remote (preferably automated) control of mechanically tuned local oscillators, phase-lock loops, mixers, optics, calibration vanes and cryostats. The present control system for these aspects of the Submillimeter Array (SMA) will be described. Distributed processing forms the underlying architecture. In each antenna cabin, a serial network of up to ten independent 80C196 microcontroller boards attaches to the real-time PowerPC computer (running LynxOS). A multi-threaded, gcc-compiled program on the PowerPC accepts top-level requests via remote procedure calls (RPC), subsequently dispatches tuning commands to the relevant microcontrollers, and regularly reports the system status to optical-fiber-based reflective memory for common access by the telescope monitor and error reporting system. All serial communication occurs asynchronously via encoded, variable-length packets. The microcontrollers respond to the requested commands and queries by accessing non-volatile, rewriteable lookup-tables (when appropriate) and executing embedded software that operates additional electronic devices (DACs, ADCs, etc.). Since various receiver hardware components require linear or rotary motion, each microcontroller also implements a position servo via a one-millisecond interrupt service routine which drives a DC-motor/encoder combination that remains standard across each subsystem.
We are developing a submillimeter continuum camera for the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO) located on Mauna Kea. The camera will employ a monolithic Si bolometer array which was developed by Mosley et al. at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). The camera will be cooled to a temperature of about 300 mK in a 3He cryostat, and will operate primarily at wavelengths of 350 and 450 micrometers . We plan to use a bolometer array with 1 x 24 directly illuminated pixels, each pixel of dimension 1 x 2 mm2, which is about half of the F/4 beam size at these wavelengths. Each pixel is 10 - 12 micrometers thick and is supported only by four thin Si legs formed by wet chemical etch. The pixels are doped n-type by phosphorus implantation, compensated by boron implantation. Signals from the bolometer pixels are first amplified by cryogenically cooled FETs. The signals are further amplified by room-temperature amplifiers and then separately digitized by 16 bit A/D converters with differential inputs. The outputs of the A/D converters are fed into a digital signal processing board via fiber-optic cables. The electronics and data acquisition system were designed by the Goddard group. We will report the status of this effort.