The Breakthrough Listen Search for Intelligent Life: A Wideband Data Recorder System for the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope

Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope

The Breakthrough Listen Initiative is undertaking a comprehensive search for radio and optical signatures from extraterrestrial civilizations.

An integral component of the project is the design and implementation of wide-bandwidth data recorder and signal processing systems. The capabilities of these systems, particularly at radio frequencies, directly determine survey speed; further, given a fixed observing time and spectral coverage, they determine sensitivity as well.

Here, we detail the Breakthrough Listen wide-bandwidth data recording system deployed at the 100-m aperture Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope. The system digitizes up to 6 GHz of bandwidth at 8 bits for both polarizations, storing the resultant 24 GB/s of data to disk. This system is among the highest data rate baseband recording systems in use in radio astronomy. A future system expansion will double recording capacity, to achieve a total Nyquist bandwidth of 12 GHz in two polarizations.

In this paper, we present details of the system architecture, along with salient configuration and disk-write optimizations used to achieve high-throughput data capture on commodity compute servers and consumer-class hard disk drives.

David H.E. MacMahon, Danny C. Price, Matthew Lebofsky, Andrew P. V. Siemion, Steve Croft, David DeBoer, J. Emilio Enriquez, Vishal Gajjar, Gregory Hellbourg, Howard Isaacson, Dan Werthimer, Zuhra Abdurashidova, Marty Bloss, Ramon Creager, John Ford, Ryan S. Lynch, Ronald J. Maddalena, Randy McCullough, Jason Ray, Mark Whitehead, Dave Woody
(Submitted on 19 Jul 2017 (v1), last revised 20 Jul 2017 (this version, v2))

Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM)
Cite as: arXiv:1707.06024 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:1707.06024v2 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)
Submission history
From: David MacMahon [view email]
[v1] Wed, 19 Jul 2017 11:27:34 GMT (6637kb,D)
[v2] Thu, 20 Jul 2017 09:06:42 GMT (6637kb,D)

Please follow Astrobiology on Twitter.

  • submit to reddit