A receiver gain modulation circuit (RGMC) was developed that modulates the power gain of the output of a radiometer receiver with a test signal. As the radiometer receiver switches between calibration noise references, the test signal is mixed with the calibrated noise and thus produces an ensemble set of measurements from which ensemble statistical analysis can be used to extract statistical information about the test signal. The RGMC is an enabling technology of the ensemble detector. As a key component for achieving ensemble detection and analysis, the RGMC has broad aeronautical and space applications. The RGMC can be used to test and develop new calibration algorithms, for example, to detect gain anomalies, and/or correct for slow drifts that affect climate-quality measurements over an accelerated time scale.

A generalized approach to analyzing radiometer system designs yields a mathematical treatment of noise reference measurements in calibration algorithms. By treating the measurements from the different noise references as ensemble samples of the receiver state, i.e. receiver gain, a quantitative description of the non-stationary properties of the underlying receiver fluctuations can be derived. Excellent agreement has been obtained between model calculations and radiometric measurements. The mathematical formulation is equivalent to modulating the gain of a stable receiver with an externally generated signal and is the basis for ensemble detection and analysis (EDA).

The concept of generating ensemble data sets using an ensemble detector is similar to the ensemble data sets generated as part of ensemble empirical mode decomposition (EEMD) with exception of a key distinguishing factor. EEMD adds noise to the signal under study whereas EDA mixes the signal with calibrated noise. It is mixing with calibrated noise that permits the measurement of temporal-functional variability of uncertainty in the underlying process.

The RGMC permits the evaluation of EDA by modulating the receiver gain using an external signal. Without the RGMC, samples of calibrated references from radiometers form an ensemble data set of the natural occurring fluctuations within a receiver. By driving the gain of an otherwise stable receiver with an external signal, the conceptual framework and generalization of the mathematics of EDA can be tested. A series of measurements was conducted to evaluate and characterize the performance of the RGMC. Test signals stepped the RGMC across its dynamic range of performance using a radiometer that sampled four noise references; analysis indicates that the RGMC successfully modulated the receiver gain with an external signal. Calibration algorithms applied to four noise references demonstrate the RGMC produced ensemble data sets of the external signal.

This work was done by Hollis Jones and Paul Racette of Goddard Space Flight Center and David Walker and Dazhen Gu of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. GSC-16188-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the December, 2011 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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