Radio Astronomy refers to astronomical observation in the radio band of the electromagnetic spectrum and is used by astrophysicists and astronomers to observe parts of the Universe outside of the visible spectrum. Through the use of radio telescopes, astronomers and astrophysicists are able to observe relatively "dark" or "cold" parts of the Universe that are not active within the visible spectrum. The specific event used within this research to observe these areas of cold matter is the 21cm wavelength emission from neutral hydrogen (the H-I line emission). This relatively low energy event allows astronomers to see large gas clouds that would normally be invisible. Radio telescopes are traditionally built out of large dish antenna arrays due to their high resolution and high gain but can be prohibitively expensive and require a great deal of upkeep.
This research focused on using genetic algorithms to optimize a phased array of patch antennas that can add an aspect of versatility and robustness to the radio telescope design that is not provided by a dish antenna radio telescope. Genetic algorithms are a method of design optimization for specific desired outcomes when the relationship between design parameters and effective outcome parameters are not well defined and therefore may result in a non-intuitive optimal design. This method uses the basic rules of evolution in repeated design simulations by rewarding traits that promote a desired effect. In this research, the genetic algorithm controls the spacing and relative weighting of a 2-D array structure for a phased patch antenna array. While the patch antenna does not have the intrinsic properties required for radio astronomy, they can be combined and optimized as a 2-D array structure that provides all the necessary functions of a radio telescope and contains the added benefit of low maintenance and wider viewing angles.
Radio Astronomy, Genetic Algorithms, Patch Antennas, Optimization, Radio Telescope, H-I Line, 21cm Line, Hyperfine Emission
SMU Graduate Research Day 2013
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Rispoli, Matthew N., "Darwin's Radio Telescope: Use of Genetic Algorithms in the Optimization of Patch Antennas for Radio Astronomy" (2013). Graduate Student Research Day: 2013. 1.