Presentation Open Access

Development of the User Interface for AIR-Spec

Cervantes, Eder

Thesis supervisor(s)

Samra, Jenna; Cheimets, Peter; Guth, Giora

The airborne infrared spectrometer (AIR-Spec) is an imaging spectrometer that will observe the solar corona during the 2017 total solar eclipse.   This eclipse will provide a unique opportunity to observe infrared emission lines in the corona. Five spectral lines are of particular interest because they may eventually be used to measure the coronal magnetic field. To avoid infrared absorption from atmospheric water vapor, AIR-Spec will be placed on an NSF Gulfstream aircraft flying above 14.9 km.

AIR-Spec  must be capable of taking stable images while the plane moves. The instrument includes an image stabilization system,  which uses fiber-optic gyroscopes to determine platform rotation, GPS to calculate the ephemeris of the sun, and a voltage-driven mirror to correct the line of sight.  An operator monitors a white light image of the eclipse and manually corrects for residual drift.   The image stabilization calculation is performed by a programmable automatic controller (PAC), which interfaces with the gyroscopes and mirror controller.  The operator interfaces with a separate computer, which acquires images and computes the solar ephemeris.

To ensure image stabilization is successful, a human machine interface (HMI) was developed to allow connection between the client and PAC. In order to make control of the instruments user friendly during the short eclipse observation, a graphical user interface (GUI) was also created. The GUI’s functionality includes turning image stabilization on and off, allowing the user to input information about the geometric setup, calculating the solar ephemeris, refining estimates of the initial aircraft attitude, and storing data from the PAC on the operator’s computer.  It also displays time, location, attitude, ephemeris, gyro rates and mirror angles.

This work supported by the NSF-REU solar physics program at SAO, grant number AGS-1560313
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