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Projects and Experiments

We are often asked for projects that can be done with Radio JOVE for science fairs, senior theses, and the like. In his book Listening to Jupiter, Radio JOVE team member, Richard Flagg has compiled some ideas for such projects and experiments. With his permission, we reprint them here.

Flagg states, "The Radio Jove project offers an opportunity to conduct scientific observations of Jupiter and compare results with other observing teams. Using the Jove equipment, you can also make measurements of the galactic background radiation and observe radio noise bursts from the Sun..."

"...This list of experiments and projects is far from complete. However, it should provide a starting point for observers who want to continue with their radio astronomy exploration of the solar system. There are many interesting experiments left to do."

Basic Projects

  1. Study Jove educational materials and learn about the radio emissions, their discovery, and characteristics, as well as information about the source regions and the controlling effects of Io.
  2. Learn about electronic components and how they function together in a radio. Build and test the Jove radio kit.
  3. Fabricate and erect the antenna.
  4. Learn to use the radio noise storm prediction tables and plan an observing campaign perhaps a field trip, or observations from your school grounds.
  5. Set up the receiver, antenna, recorder, and computer and operate the completed monitoring station to acquire scientific data.
  6. Observe Jupiter on several nights and verify that emissions are most likely to be received for certain values of CML and Io position. Make tape recordings and Radio-SkyPipe displays of the radio noise storms. Keep an accurate log of activities.
  7. E-mail data files from Radio-SkyPipe to NASA so they can be displayed on the Radio Jove Web site for comparison with results obtained by other observers.
  8. Operate the Jove receiver over a 24-hour period to determine how listening conditions change from daytime to night. Correlate the noise levels and number of radio stations heard with the time of day and position of the Sun.
  9. Monitor noise bursts from the Sun as it drifts through the Jove antenna beam. Correlate reception of bursts with data posted on the Web by professional observing programs. Use a small optical telescope or images from the Web to determine if there are any sunspots present that may be associated with the radio noise bursts. (Never look directly at the Sun through any telescope unless it has a high-quality solar filter in front of the objective lens. Probably the safest method is to project the image onto a white paper.)
  10. Use the Internet to participate in observations of Jupiter by radio observatories at the University of Florida and in Hawaii.
  11. Make measurements of the galactic background emission. Observe how these emissions vary as the Jove antenna beam sweeps through different parts of the galaxy. A complete tracing could be made in 24 hours if it were not for station interference and noise received during the daylight hours. This means that during any 24-hour period you can observe the galactic background best at night for about eight hours. During that time, your antenna will sweep about a third of the way around the celestial sphere due to the earth's rotation. Four months later, the earth will have moved a third of the way around the Sun so the antenna will be viewing a different part of the galaxy during nighttime hours. Repeating this measurement at four-month intervals will put each part of the galaxy into your antenna beam during nighttime hours when listening conditions are good. Determine if there is a peak in the background emission and when it occurs, and compare this with when the center of our galaxy is overhead.

Intermediate Projects

  1. Coordinate observations with other teams. Compare the structure of radio noise bursts received simultaneously at several locations. Determine if the burst structure is similar or different. If the burst structure is different, attempt to understand why. (As a follow-on project, see experiment 4 under advanced projects.)
  2. Record radio noise storms over several months. Devise a method to measure the duration and structure of individual L-bursts. Determine if the character of Jovian bursts changes as Jupiter gets close to the Sun in the sky. Is the structure of an L-burst a feature of the source or does it change as signals pass through the solar corona? Is L-burst structure dependent on how much of the solar corona lies between Earth and Jupiter?

Advanced Projects

  1. With the addition of a calibrated noise source..., it is possible to make measurements of the absolute strength of radio noise bursts. From such quantitative measurements (and a few assumptions), the amount of power emitted from Jupiter can be calculated.
  2. Use a pair of Jove receivers to measure the difference in arrival time of S-bursts at two frequencies approximately 300 kHz apart. To perform this experiment, it is necessary to measure differences in burst arrival times on the order of 1/100 of a second. Such a measurement would indicate that S-bursts drift in frequency and would allow a determination of the drift rates. A two-channel oscilloscope could be estimated from the oscilloscope traces. The drift rate of S-bursts is most likely a measure of how fast electron bunches are traveling along the Jovian magnetic field lines.
  3. Study the polarization of the received signals using a special antenna called a polarimeter and a pair of Jove receivers. A polarimeter not much larger than the basic Jove antenna can be wired to produce left and right hand circular outputs... Determine the dominant polarization of Jovian noise bursts. Information about the polarization of the radio noise bursts is relevant to understanding the role of Jupiter's magnetic field in their generation.
  4. Several observers at sites a few hundred miles apart could synchronize their clocks and make precise measurements of the arrival time of individual noise bursts at their observatories. Determine if differences in bursts received simultaneously at several sites is due to ionospheric effects or beams of radio energy from Jupiter sweeping rapidly across the earth.

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