Articles | Volume 18, issue 9
Ann. Geophys., 18, 1231–1241, 2000

Special issue: IXe EISCAT

Ann. Geophys., 18, 1231–1241, 2000

  30 Sep 2000

30 Sep 2000

MIDAS-W: a workstation-based incoherent scatter radar data acquisition system

J. M. Holt1, P. J. Erickson1, A. M. Gorczyca1, and T. Grydeland2 J. M. Holt et al.
  • 1Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Haystack Observatory, Westford, MA 01886, USA
  • 2University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway

Abstract. The Millstone Hill Incoherent Scatter Data Acquisition System (MIDAS) is based on an abstract model of an incoherent scatter radar. This model is implemented in a hierarchical software system, which serves to isolate hardware and low-level software implementation details from higher levels of the system. Inherent in this is the idea that implementation details can easily be changed in response to technological advances. MIDAS is an evolutionary system, and the MIDAS hardware has, in fact, evolved while the basic software model has remained unchanged. From the earliest days of MIDAS, it was realized that some functions implemented in specialized hardware might eventually be implemented by software in a general-purpose computer. MIDAS-W is the realization of this concept. The core component of MIDAS-W is a Sun Microsystems UltraSparc 10 workstation equipped with an Ultrarad 1280 PCI bus analog to digital (A/D) converter board. In the current implementation, a 2.25 MHz intermediate frequency (IF) is bandpass sampled at 1 µs intervals and these samples are multicast over a high-speed Ethernet which serves as a raw data bus. A second workstation receives the samples, converts them to filtered, decimated, complex baseband samples and computes the lag-profile matrix of the decimated samples. Overall performance is approximately ten times better than the previous MIDAS system, which utilizes a custom digital filtering module and array processor based correlator. A major advantage of MIDAS-W is its flexibility. A portable, single-workstation data acquisition system can be implemented by moving the software receiver and correlator programs to the workstation with the A/D converter. When the data samples are multicast, additional data processing systems, for example for raw data recording, can be implemented simply by adding another workstation with suitable software to the high-speed network. Testing of new data processing software is also greatly simplified, because a workstation with the new software can be added to the network without impacting the production system. MIDAS-W has been operated in parallel with the existing MIDAS-1 system to verify that incoherent scatter measurements by the two systems agree. MIDAS-W has also been used in a high-bandwidth mode to collect data on the November, 1999, Leonid meteor shower.

Key words: Electromagnetics (instruments and techniques; signal processing and adaptive antennas) – Ionosphere (instruments and techniques)

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