MINUTES

of the RadioAstron Teleconference 3

October 2, 2003

Willem Baan chaired the teleconference.

The agenda of the teleconference and the list of participants are attached as an Appendix A to the Minutes, and list of used acronyms and conventional names is given as an Appendix B.

 

The main intents of the teleconference were to review the progress on the RadioAstron project, to develop actions in order to get NASA support for the project, and to discuss the agenda of the oncoming RadioAstron meeting in November 2003.

 

1.                  Kardashev informed the participants about the technical progress in the development project. He specified the following achievements:

 

1.1.            All electronic devices belonging to the scientific payload were assembled into the Focal container and into the Device container in standard configuration of the engineering model, and they were successfully tested in this configuration.

1.2.            At present these containers are being assembled with the SRT in special configuration for radio astronomical tests in Pushchino. After the assembling final checkout of the equipment will be done in LA. The process will take few weeks, and the SRT will be packed and transferred to Pushchino.

1.3.            Dedicated cooling system based on the liquid nitrogen cryostat has been successfully tested together with feeds and on-board receivers. This cooling system will be used only in Pushchino tests to provide physical temperatures of the on-board LNAs close to those which will be provided in flight by the passive cooling system.

1.4.            Measurements of the accuracy of the full SRT surface have been conducted with the resulting RMS of 0.5 mm. There is hope to reduce the value down to 0.3 mm.

 

2.                  Kardashev informed the participants about mission time-line. He positively stated that:

 

2.1.            Mission development is close to the time-line with the launch date in March 2006.

2.2.            After radio astronomical tests in Pushchino engineering model of the SRT will be subject to the general sequence of tests with the engineering model of the spacecraft in LA in the first half of 2004.

2.3.            Funding for the mission development for 2003 were provided in full volume, and ASC anticipates the same favorable situation in a future since RadioAstron is currently the top priority mission for Russia in space astrophysics.

 

3.                  Kardashev informed the participants that new General Designer (Director) was appointed in LA, namely, K.D. Kulikov was replaced by K.M. Pichkhadze.

 

4.                  A complex discussion followed on the NASA involvement in RadioAstron project.

 

4.1.            Kardashev informed participants on the decisions achieved at the seventh meeting of the U.S./Russia Space Science Executive Joint Working Group (EJWG), which was held on July 29, 2003, at NASA Headquarters, in Washington, DC. After hard negotiation it was decided do not terminate existing Implementation Agreement but to amend it. The statement in general Summary of Discussions to be signed by Dr. Edward Weiler, Associate Administrator for Space Science (NASA), and Dr. Georgiy Polishchuk, Deputy Director General (Rosavoakosmos) is the following:

 

to transfer to Russia two of the U.S. ground stations on a rent-free basis. Both sides agreed to create a splinter group of the EJWG for the Radioastron mission that will prepare a proposal for the implementation of this possibility, and also will investigate formally amending the existing Radioastron IA as required to reflect any jointly adopted plan of action.

 

More details were given in the Summary of the Meeting of the Astrophysics Sub-Group of the U.S.-Russia Space Science Executive Joint Working Group. The splinter group met to discuss the concept. The sides agreed to jointly investigate the possibility of the following option: (below is the citation from the document)

 

Tracking Stations

 

The Russian side expressed a strong need for three tracking station locations: Europe (Pushchino, outside of Moscow), eastern North America (Green Bank), and southern hemisphere (Tidbinbilla). It was agreed that the U.S. side would investigate the possibility of transferring and shipping the HALCA/VSOP electronics from the Madrid station for use with the Russian Pushchino antenna; transferring the Tidbinbilla antenna and associated HALCA/VSOP electronics to an Australian entity that would establish a separate agreement with Russia for support of the mission with this equipment; and transferring the HALCA/VSOP electronics from the Goldstone station to Pushchino for use as spares. It was noted that the Green Bank antenna and equipment are not NASA property, and the Russian side would have to make separate bilateral arrangements with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and the National Science Foundation for its use.

 

Orbit Determination

It was agreed that the Russian side should discuss directly with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to arrange for desired orbit analysis services.

 

Data Correlation

It was agreed that it will be the responsibility of VLBI observers to make arrangements for the correlation of their observations through NRAO or other international VLBI organizations.

 

The Russian side noted that they will need to receive all equipment under discussion by the end of the third quarter of 2004 in order to meet testing schedules during 2005.

 

As result of the foregoing, the sides agreed to investigate formally amending the existing 1997 Radioastron Implementing Agreement as required to reflect any jointly adopted plan of action.

 

The sides recognized that the above proposed approach is subject to a number of policy, export control, and legal considerations, but agreed to move forward to assess its feasibility in a timely way. In order to maintain good communications and forward momentum, the splinter group recommended that an ad hoc Astrophysics Sub-Group of the EJWG be established to manage this activity. The Russian co-chair of the Sub-Group would be Acad. Kardashev, and the U.S. co-chair would be Mr. Howard.

 

 

 

4.2. Kardashev informed the participants that there were no working contacts with Richard Howard yet. He ensured the participants that Rosaviakosmos has definite position to try to get more support from NASA using US-dependence on Russian involvement in ISS operations.

 

4.3. Kardashev also made a suggestion that, since negative recommendation of SScAC made in March 2003 was based on financial situation, but not on the science merit of RadioAstrom mission, it might be reasonable to arise the question once again providing supporting letter to NASA from astronomical community in USA. The suggestions seems did not find the enthusiasm among the US partners. Instead, Jauncey proposed to present letter from

international community to Rosaviakosmos expressing the support for the mission.

 

4.4. Kellermann and Jauncey clearly declared that without NASA funding ATNF and NRAO can not participate in RadioAstron mission providing operation of tracking stations in Green Bank and Tidbinbilla and data correlation in Socorro. On the other hand, Langston and Romney explained that it is not too late to prepare NRAO support for RadioAstron if funding will be supplied timely.

 

4.5. There was long discussion on the volume of funds from NASA necessary to provide support to NRAO and to ATNF. The example of the estimate is presented in the Appendix C as received from Ed Fomalont after the teleconference. Finally Baan take the AI to contact Valery Altunin and to ask him to make the estimates.

 

4.6. D'Addario made some recommendations on the prospect of utilization of the US equipment for tracking stations in Pushchino. He said that the equipment was not used for several years, and it may be rather difficult to make this equipment working, because that there were several computers used to control the system, using very complicated software related to the specific environment of DSN. Larry recommended that it would be probably more realistic for Russians to develop their own design of Pushchino tracking station and then to use some specific critical devices selected from the equipment of US tracking stations.

 

5. During the discussions of the agenda of the November meeting there were several remarks that there is too much travel in the program of the meeting. Therefore it was decided that M.Popov will send request to all potential participants about their relation to the traveling schedule and they will express their opinions by email as well as other suggestions on the agenda. After that the agenda will be properly modified.

 

6. Action Items resulting from the discussions:

October02-1. Collect and incorporate comments on the agenda of the oncoming RadioAstron meeting.(M.Popov)

October02-2. Keep informed potential participants of the future RadioAstron meeting on the status of visa getting process. (M.Popov)

October02-3. Chairmen of the Working Groups are urgued to develop agenda of the discussions on November 18, 2003.

October02-4. W.Baan have to communicate with Valery Altunin to make estimate of the budget of necessary NASA support for RadioAstron.


Appendix A

 

Agenda for the Teleconference on RadioAstron on October 2 2003

 

1. Sound check and attendance.

2. Review and corrections of the telecon's agenda - W. Baan.

3. Review of the AI from the previous teleconference - M.Popov

4. Project status (short information) - N. Kardashev.

5. Actions to get support from NASA

a) understanding of current NASA position - NASA representative

b) understanding of the prospects of utilization of Madrid/Goldstone TS-equipment in Pushichino - L.D'Addario

c) actions undertaken by Russian side (last, present and future) in order to get NASA support - N.Kardashev

d) action undertaken by the international partners (last, present and future) in order to get NASA support - K.Kellermann

6. Agenda of Radioastron 2003 Meeting (Nov 19-21)- M. Popov.

(see attachment)

7. Agenda of Radioastron IWG meetings (Nov. 18): - M. Popov.

a) "On-board science payload" - V. Andreyanov & L. D"Addario

- Plan and the 1-st results of the SRT tests in Lavochkin and in Pushchino.

b) "Tracking stations" - B. Kanevsky & G. Langston

- Plan of activities in transfer of US equipment to Pushchino,

- Agreed list of equipment to be transferred,

- Accommodation of the equipment in Pushchino,

- Upgrade of Tracking Stations to operate in RadioAstron mode.

c) "Mission operations" - M. Popov & E. Fomalont

- Development of scheduling software

d) "Ballistik and navigation" - E. Akim (IAM) & JPL

- Accuracy of orbit measurements and reconstruction

e) "Correlators and data processing" - S. Likhachev & J. Romney

- Correlators for RadioAstron

- Observations and processing in MFS-mode

- Software for phased VLBI arrays

- Correlator log-files

f) "Science program" - N. Kardashev & K. Kellermann.

- Catalog of radio sources with flux densities > 300 mJy at 22 GHZ

- Catalog of IDV radio sources

- Catalog of unresolved sources in spectral line radio emission

- Catalog of pulsars fo RadioAstron

- Memorandum on the optimization of the RadioAstron mission by using advanced observing methods at ground radio telescopes with the advantages of using on-board H-maser and accelerometer

- MFS testing at the GRTs

8. RISC members and invitations on the Meeting - M.Popov.

 

List of participants

1. Andreyanov V., ASC, Russia

2. Baan W.A., ASTRON, The Netherlands

3. Bartel N., York University, Canada

4. Cannon W., CRESTech, Canada

5. D'Addario L., NRAO, USA

6. Fomalont E., NRAO, USA

7. Gurvits L., JIVE, The Netherlands

8. Hirabayashi H., ISAS/JAXA, Japan

9. Jauncey D., CSIRO, Australia

10. Van't Klooster K., ESA, The Netherlands

11. Kanevsky B., ASC, Russia

12. Kardashev N.S., ASC, Russia

13. Kellermann K., NRAO, USA

14. Lobanov A., MPIfR, Germany

15. Langston G., NRAO, USA

16. Likhachev S., ASC, Russia

17. Popov M.V., ASC, Russia

18. Preston R., JPL NASA, USA

19. Romney J., NRAO, USA

20. Slysh V.I., ASC, Russia

21. Vasilkov V.I., ASC, Russia

22. Zensus A., MPIfR, Germany

 

Appendix B

The list of used acronyms

 

ASC Astro Space Center of Lebedev Physical Instutute

SRT Space Radio Telescope (all scientific payload including 10-m dish)

TMS Spacecraft Telemetry System (technical)

VIRK Scientific high rate (up to 2x72 Mbit/s) radio complex, including transponder

EM Engineering Model

Focal Container Hermetic package with the scientific payload; it contains receivers, microwave synthesizer, control unit and is placed in focal site of dish

Cold Plate Cooled LNAs and antenna feed

FM Focal Module = Focal Container+Cold Plate

DC Hhermetic device container (part of payload); it contains Formatter, Rb oscillators, synthesizer, control unit and is placed under dish

DM Device Module = DC + H-maser

Electronic Complex all SRT electronics

TVT Termo-Vacuum Tests

LA Lavochkin Association

Service Module, Spacecraft bus spacecraft itself (without payload); sometimes in text

Spacecraft =service module + payload

ISS International Space Stations

SEUS Structure and Evolution of the Universe Subcommittee

SScAC Space Science Advisory Committee

 

Appendix C

 

Below is the radioastron budget that was presented in the Feb 2003 meeting to the SEUS committee of NASA. The numbers were developed amongst JPL, NASA HQ and NRAO people. This budget represent the minimum support needed from NASA for radioastron to succeed with scientific observations. This budget assumes a 2006 launch.

 

PROPOSED NASA SUPPORT TO RADIOASTRON

(Units in 2003 k$)

 

Support FY03 FY04 FY05 FY06 FY07 FY08 FY09 Total

 

GB Tracking Station 250 550 1500 750 750 750 750 5300

 

VLBA Correlator 125 125 850 800 800 800 800 4300

 

Orbit Determination 190 200 200 200 200 200 200 1390

 

Contingency 150 150 200 200 200 200 200 1300

 

Total 715 1025 2750 1950 1950 1950 1950 12290

 

 

Some comments:

 

1. There was some discussion about the Russians doing the OD, which would save money.

 

2. Contingency was really 'data archiving', which NASA insisted on putting in. It has been changed to contingency.

 

3. Many additional add-ons (more tracking stations, H-maser, redoing low frequency radiometers) would increase the cost of the mission. It was felt that these additions would jeopardize NASA's involvement in the mission and were not needed to give a scientifically valuable mission.

Ed Fomalont