Back to the Main RMSPG page
Back to the RMSPG projects page

FASR: The Frequency Agile Solar Radiotelescope

Link to FASR Web site

I. General project/facility description

  1. Overview of the facility/project
    The Frequency Agile Solar Radiotelescope (FASR) is a new initiative. It was recommended for construction by the Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey (where the Radio and Submillimeter Panel considered its technical feasibility, while its science was rated by the Solar Panel), and more recently, it was rated number one among small projects by the Solar and Space Physics Decadal Survey "The Sun to the Earth -- and Beyond". Briefly, FASR will be a solar dedicated radio telescope designed to perform dynamic, wideband, imaging spectroscopy with angular, spectral, and temporal resolution commensurate with the physical phenomena that occur on the Sun. A proposal to develop a design and development plan (FASR DDP) will be submitted by AUI on behalf of a consortium of universities and other institutions to the NSF ATM Division in early 2005 in anticipation that a proposal for construction and operation of the instrument would be prepared for submission in 2006.

    FASR's planned construction start is in 2007, first science in 2009, and completion in 2011. FASR data and data products will be fully available to the solar physics and solar-terrestrial communities.

  2. Managing institution and organization
    The FASR Project will be implemented through a new organization under management by Associated Universities, Inc. Definition of, and detailed planning for, the new organization will occur under the FASR DDP during 2005-6.

  3. Funding source(s)
    It is expected that the bulk of the funding will originate from the NSF. We expect roughly 5% from foreign partners, mostly through in-kind contributions. Funding possibilities will also be explored with NASA and AFRL.

  4. Construction history and cost
    Future facility: NYA.

    At this time, the cost estimate is very uncertain, but a full-up facility may require $50M for construction (including software "construction"; see below). FASR will not need to be further instrumented.

  5. Operational history and cost
    Future facility: NYA.

    A conservative estimate based on 15% of construction is $7.5M/yr. This number would include operations and maintenance, as well as pipeline data processing and archiving. See discussion of "operational mode" below.

II. Technical details

  1. Specifics of telescope/instrument
    Angular resolution 20/freq(GHz) arcsec
    Frequency range 30 MHz to 30 GHz
    Number channel pairs2-4
    Total instantaneous BW~2 GHz
    Frequency resolution0.3-3 GHz: 0.1%
    <0.3 or >3 GHz: 1%
    Time resolution 0.3-3 GHz: 10 ms
    <0.3 or >3 GHz: 100 ms
    PolarizationI, V (Q, U possible)
    Number antennas 3-30 GHz: ~100
    0.3-3 GHz: ~80
    <0.3 GHz: ~60
    Size antennas 3-30 GHz: 2 m
    0.3-3 GHz: 6 m
    <0.3 GHz: LPDA
    Maximum antenna spacing6 km
    Absolute positions 1 arcsec
    Absolute flux calibration <5%
    |ΔTB| (snapshot) 1000 K
    Note that the instrument noise is dominated by the source over most of the frequency band. The sensitivity of the instrument strongly depends on the phenomenon being observed. It is anticipated that solar flares and radio bursts will be imaged with a dynamic range of 104-106:1 whereas quiet Sun phenomena will be imaged with a dynamic range of 102-104:1.

    Operational mode:   As a dedicated (rather than general purpose) facility for solar research, FASR would operate in a manner rather different from other radio facilities but common to the solar community. The FASR schematic model is to pipeline as much of the data calibration, reduction, and processing as possible. An interim archive containing ~10 Tbytes a day will be formed each day and over-written a day later (with safeguards, etc). A number of quicklook data products will be produced from the interim archive for forecasting, "now-casting", and planning by other instruments and missions. Several general-purpose and application-driven archival data bases will be derived from the interim archive. For example, flares will be treated differently from CMEs, and CMEs will be treated differently from active regions, active regions will be ttreated differently from the quiet Sun. Each will have its own averaging requirements in the spatial, spectral, and temporal domains. It is expected that only 10s of Gbytes of data will be permanently archived each day.

    Users will interact with the permanent archive in two ways. There will be a pipeline reduction of the data that produces a standard suite of data products: e.g., brightness temperature maps in data cube form as functions of time and frequency, maps of physical quantities derived therefrom (e.g., coronal magnetograms), and data logs of phenomena and events of interest. We expect the majority of FASR users to use these standard data products, much as users now use SOHO EIT or TRACE images. Most of our users will not be expert (or even non-expert) radio interferometrists. However, for those who are comfortable with it, or are willing to learn, users will be encouraged to exercise the option of accessing the visibility data and calibration parameters so that they can reduce and analyze the data themselves at their home institution.

    We will also make it possible for user-defined data selection criteria to be applied to the interim archive so that "guest observer" specialized archives are supported (at very low cost!). Finally, since it is unlikely that we can simultaneously support all science requirements simultaneously when we populate the interim archive (the equivalent of supporting a logical .AND. function on all instrument specifications regarding spectral, temporal, and spatial resolution) we may, in fact, encourage and support proposals from the community to operate the instrument in non-standard modes for certain experiments. We may well outgrow the need for for this as compute power, mass storage, data bandwidths, etc, continue to grow.

  2. New capabilities anticipated/planned in next 5-10 years
    Future facility; included in the technical planning of the FASR DDP will be clear identification of upgrade paths for the instrument.

III. User profile

  1. % of "open skies" time

  2. Institutional affiliations of users
    Data will be available to all users without prejudice.

  3. Student access, involvement, usage
    We will strongly encourage and plan for student involvement in all phases of the project.

IV. Science Overview

  1. Current forefront scientific programs
    Future facility: NA.

  2. Major discoveries (through 1999)
    Future facility: NA.

  3. Science highlights of last 5 years
    Future facility: NA.

  4. Main future science questions to be addressed

    It is expected that, as a well-calibrated instrument that is operational for at least a solar cycle (2 x 11 yrs), FASR will make major contributions to synoptic studies. It is also expected to play a significant programmatic role in forecasting and "now-casting" solar and space weather activity.

    Finally, it should be emphasized that as a new, innovative, and wholly unique instrument, FASR is expected to make entirely unanticipated discoveries.

  5. Synergies with other major forefront facilities
  6. Unique contributions

V. Education/Outreach activities

  1. Visitor facility
    Future facility: NYA
  2. Student programs
    Future facility: NYA

VI. Documentation/website URLs

  1. URL of facility website
    The FASR website is currently The website will move to its own domain during the FASR DDP.

  2. URL of EPO website
    Future facility: NYA
  3. URL(s) of any brief overviews of project/facility
  4. URL(s) of miscellaneous documentation

This page created and maintained for the RMSPG by Martha Haynes
Last modified: Mon 7 Feb 15:14:48 EST 2005 after review by Tim Bastian.