The pipeline for the ExoMars DREAMS scientific data archiving [IMA]

DREAMS (Dust Characterisation, Risk Assessment, and Environment Analyser on the Martian Surface) is a payload accommodated on the Schiaparelli Entry and Descent Module (EDM) of ExoMars 2016, the ESA and Roscosmos mission to Mars (Esposito (2015), Bettanini et al. (2014)). It is a meteorological station with the additional capability to perform measure- ments of the atmospheric electric fields close to the surface of Mars. The instrument package will make the first measurements of electric fields on Mars, providing data that will be of value in planning the second ExoMars mission in 2020, as well as possible future human missions to the red planet. This paper describes the pipeline to convert the raw telemetries to the final data products for the archive, with associated metadata.

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P. Schipani, L. Marty, M. Mannetta, et. al.
Fri, 17 Mar 17

Comments: 4 pages, to appear in the Proceedings of ADASS 2016, Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) Conference Series

LAGO: the Latin American Giant Observatory [IMA]

The Latin American Giant Observatory (LAGO) is an extended cosmic ray observatory composed of a network of water-Cherenkov detectors (WCD) spanning over different sites located at significantly different altitudes (from sea level up to more than $5000$\,m a.s.l.) and latitudes across Latin America, covering a wide range of geomagnetic rigidity cut-offs and atmospheric absorption/reaction levels. The LAGO WCD is simple and robust, and incorporates several integrated devices to allow time synchronization, autonomous operation, on board data analysis, as well as remote control and automated data transfer.
This detection network is designed to make detailed measurements of the temporal evolution of the radiation flux coming from outer space at ground level. LAGO is mainly oriented to perform basic research in three areas: high energy phenomena, space weather and atmospheric radiation at ground level. It is an observatory designed, built and operated by the LAGO Collaboration, a non-centralized collaborative union of more than 30 institutions from ten countries.
In this paper we describe the scientific and academic goals of the LAGO project – illustrating its present status with some recent results – and outline its future perspectives.

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I. Sidelnik, H. Asorey and LAGO. Collaboration
Fri, 17 Mar 17

Comments: 4 pages, 2 figures, Proceedings of the 9th International Workshop on Ring Imaging Cherenkov Detectors (RICH 2016), Lake Bled, Slovenia

An investigation of pulsar searching techniques with the Fast Folding Algorithm [IMA]

Here we present an in-depth study of the behaviour of the Fast Folding Algorithm, an alternative pulsar searching technique to the Fast Fourier Transform. Weaknesses in the Fast Fourier Transform, including a susceptibility to red noise, leave it insensitive to pulsars with long rotational periods (P > 1 s). This sensitivity gap has the potential to bias our understanding of the period distribution of the pulsar population. The Fast Folding Algorithm, a time-domain based pulsar searching technique, has the potential to overcome some of these biases. Modern distributed-computing frameworks now allow for the application of this algorithm to all-sky blind pulsar surveys for the first time. However, many aspects of the behaviour of this search technique remain poorly understood, including its responsiveness to variations in pulse shape and the presence of red noise. Using a custom CPU-based implementation of the Fast Folding Algorithm, ffancy, we have conducted an in-depth study into the behaviour of the Fast Folding Algorithm in both an ideal, white noise regime as well as a trial on observational data from the HTRU-S Low Latitude pulsar survey, including a comparison to the behaviour of the Fast Fourier Transform. We are able to both confirm and expand upon earlier studies that demonstrate the ability of the Fast Folding Algorithm to outperform the Fast Fourier Transform under ideal white noise conditions, and demonstrate a significant improvement in sensitivity to long-period pulsars in real observational data through the use of the Fast Folding Algorithm.

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A. Cameron, E. Barr, D. Champion, et. al.
Fri, 17 Mar 17

Comments: 19 pages, 15 figures, 3 tables

Clustering of Gamma-Ray bursts through kernel principal component analysis [CL]

We consider the problem related to clustering of gamma-ray bursts (from “BATSE” catalogue) through kernel principal component analysis in which our proposed kernel outperforms results of other competent kernels in terms of clustering accuracy and we obtain three physically interpretable groups of gamma-ray bursts. The effectivity of the suggested kernel in combination with kernel principal component analysis in revealing natural clusters in noisy and nonlinear data while reducing the dimension of the data is also explored in two simulated data sets.

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S. Modak, A. Chattopadhyay and T. Chattopadhyay
Fri, 17 Mar 17

Comments: 30 pages, 10 figures

Astrophysics and Big Data: Challenges, Methods, and Tools [IMA]

Nowadays there is no field research which is not flooded with data. Among the sciences, Astrophysics has always been driven by the analysis of massive amounts of data. The development of new and more sophisticated observation facilities, both ground-based and spaceborne, has led data more and more complex (Variety), an exponential growth of both data Volume (i.e., in the order of petabytes), and Velocity in terms of production and transmission. Therefore, new and advanced processing solutions will be needed to process this huge amount of data. We investigate some of these solutions, based on machine learning models as well as tools and architectures for Big Data analysis that can be exploited in the astrophysical context.

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M. Garofalo, A. Botta and G. Ventre
Thu, 16 Mar 17

Comments: 4 pages, 1 figures, proceedings of the IAU-325 symposium on Astroinformatics, Cambridge University press

Aqua MODIS Band 24 Crosstalk Striping [IMA]

Aqua MODIS, unlike its predecessor on board the Terra spacecraft, had always been thought to have been spared from significant deleterious impacts of electronic crosstalk on its imagery. However, recent efforts brought to our attention the presence of striping artifacts in Aqua MODIS images from band 24 (4.47$\mu$m), which upon further inspection proved to have a noticeable impact on the quality of the L1B product and to have been present since the beginning of the mission, in 2002. Using images of the Moon from scheduled lunar observations, we linked the artifacts with electronic crosstalk contamination of the response of detector 1 of band 24 by signal sent from the detector 10 of band 26 (1.375$\mu$m), a neighboring band in the same focal plane assembly. In this paper, we report on these findings, the artifact mitigation strategy adopted by us, and on our success in restoring band 24 detector 1 behavior and image quality.

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G. Keller, Z. Wang, A. Wu, et. al.
Thu, 16 Mar 17

Comments: N/A

Protecting the Dark Skies of Chile: Initiatives, Education and Coordination [IMA]

During the next decade, Chile will consolidate its place as the ‘World Capital of Astronomy’. By 2025, more than 70% of the world’s infrastructure for conducting professional astronomical observations will be installed in the Atacama Desert in the north of the country. The amazing scientific discoveries these telescopes produce have a direct impact on our understanding of the cosmos, and protecting this ‘window to the universe’ is fundamental in order to ensure humanity’s right to contemplate the night sky and decipher our origins. As a country, Chile faces the challenge of fighting light pollution and protecting its dark skies in a context of sprawling urban growth and an ever-expanding mining industry that shares the same territory with astronomical observatories.
The Chilean Astronomical Society (Sociedad Chilena de Astronomia, SOCHIAS) plays an active role in protecting dark skies through a series of initiatives involving educational programmes, aiding in the development and enforcement of public policy and regulation, and seeking the declaration of Chile’s best astronomical sites as protected heritage areas, both at the national and international levels. Whilst describing our experiences, I highlight the importance of approaching the problem of light pollution from all sides, involving all the relevant actors (communities, national and local governments, lighting industry, environmentalists, astronomers and others). I also discuss how communication and timely coordination with potential problematic actors (like industries, cities and some government agencies) can be an effective tool to transform potential enemies into allies in the fight for the protection of the night sky.

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G. Blanc
Thu, 16 Mar 17

Comments: 9 pages, 3 figures. Published as par of the proceedings of the “The Right to Dark Skies” conference, organized by UNESCO, Mexico City, January 2016