A method has been designed for using multiple independent stations to discriminate fast transient radio sources from local anomalies, such as antenna noise or radio frequency interference (RFI). This can improve the sensitivity of incoherent detection for geographically separated stations such as the very long baseline array (VLBA), the future square kilometer array (SKA), or any other coincident observations by multiple separated receivers.
The alternative “trimmed” estimator is considered, which excises the strongest n signals from the list of short-beamed intensities. Because local RFI is independent at each antenna, this interference is unlikely to occur at many antennas on the same step. Trimming the strongest signals provides robustness to RFI that can theoretically outperform even the detection performance of the same number of antennas at a single site. This algorithm requires sorting the signals at each time step and dispersion measure, an operation that is computationally tractable for existing array sizes.
An alternative uses the various stations to form an ensemble estimate of the conditional density function (CDF) evaluated at each time step. Both methods outperform standard detection strategies on a test sequence of VLBA data, and both are efficient enough for deployment in real-time, online transient detection applications.
This work was done by David R. Thompson, Kiri L. Wagstaff, and Walid A. Majid of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. NPO-47678
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