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Context: The development of the algorithm called STARFIRE by scientists at Raman Research Institute (RRI) is a significant advancement in the field of radio astronomy.
- An algorithm called “STARFIRET” can estimate and map unwanted Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) signals in space.
- Its application can be instrumental in designing instruments for future space-based astronomy missions, enabling optimal operations in the presence of RFI, and ultimately enhancing the quality of data obtained from these missions.
- Astronomers are particularly interested in studying the early Universe and its evolution by tuning their radio antennas to detect the 21-cm hydrogen line within the 40 to 200 Mega Hertz (MHz) range. These signals carry essential information about the cosmos, but they are extremely faint and weak, making their detection quite challenging. Moreover, the increasing presence of RFI sources, such as FM radio stations, WiFi networks, mobile towers, radar, satellites, and communication devices, poses a significant hurdle in recording accurate astronomical observations on Earth.
- The algorithm STARFIRE addresses the concern of RFI emitted by various sources, including FM stations, and can calculate and estimate this interference.
More about the study
- The researchers utilized information on FM transmitter stations from six countries to develop and test the STARFIRE algorithm. The countries included Canada, the USA, Japan, Australia, Germany, and South Africa.
- By incorporating this data, the algorithm could assess the RFI environment's impact on different orbits around Earth at varying altitudes, such as Low Earth Orbit, Medium Earth Orbit, and Geo-stationary orbit.
- The study revealed that lower altitude orbits, which see a smaller fraction of the Earth, experience fewer transmitters' RFI, making them more suitable for the initial phase (Phase-I) of the PRATUSH mission. Subsequent phases, like a lunar orbiter, will be influenced by the observations from Phase-I.
- The significance of STARFIRE extends to its potential applications in designing future space missions, such as India's Probing ReionizATion of the Universe using Signal from Hydrogen (PRATUSH). With the algorithm's help, mission planners can select suitable orbits and design antennas and instrument components that minimize the impact of RFI and enhance the sensitivity to desired cosmic signals.
- STARFIRE's mathematical formulation allows for flexibility, enabling users to customize the properties of antennas that transmit and receive RFI. This feature is essential for incorporating astrophysical radio signals from our galaxy and beyond, leading to more meaningful conclusions about the experiment's sensitivity.
- STARFIRE's ability to analyze RFI effects at different altitudes, including Low Earth Orbit, Medium Earth Orbit, and Geo-stationary orbit, provides valuable insights for optimizing space missions, especially those focusing on low-frequency cosmological experiments.
- The STARFIRE algorithm represents a crucial tool for radio astronomers and mission designers, empowering them to tackle the challenges posed by RFI and opening up new possibilities for studying the early Universe and its evolution. Its development marks a significant step forward in advancing our understanding of the cosmos through space-based astronomy missions.
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Q. The term “STARFIRE” is frequently seen in the news. What is STARFIRE?
A) A space mission to study the early Universe
B) An algorithm to estimate Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) in space
C) A satellite designed to detect cosmic signals
D) A telescope for observing distant galaxies
Explanation: STARFIRE is an algorithm developed by scientists at Raman Research Institute (RRI) to estimate and map unwanted RFI signals in space, particularly in the context of radio astronomy missions.