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Appendix: LFI Instrument[edit]

Here we report a more detailed definition of each component of the LFI instrument, briefly described in the main LFI instrument page.

Feed Horns (FH)[edit]

Dual profiled corrugated horns have been selected at all LFI frequencies as the best design in terms of shape of the main lobe, level of the side lobes, control of the phase centre, and compactness. Dual profiled LFI horns are composed by a Sine Squared profiled section, and an exponential profile near the aperture plane. In order to optimise the optical matching of the feeds phase centres to the telescope focal surface, while preventing obscuration between horns, LFI has 6 different feed horn designs. For each frequency, the number of feeds and the number of different designs are reported in Table 1 below.

Table 1. Number of LFI feed horns and number of different feed horn designs
Frequency (GHz) Number of Horns Number of designs
30 2 1
44 3 2
70 6 3

LFI feed horn design specifications are reported in the table 2 below.

Table 2. LFI feed horn design specifications. The edge taper is the taper used to optimize the optical response; the return loss and the cross polarization are the maximum design values over the whole bandwidth; The phase center location is defined as the distance between the horn flange and the focal surface of the telescope.

The design process led to a corrugation profile composed by a mixture of a sine-squared section, starting from the throat, and an exponential section near the aperture plane. The length of this last has a direct impact on the location of the phase center. The analytical expression of the corrugation profile, [math]R(z)[/math], is the following

[math] \label{eq:fh1} R(z) = R_{th} +(R_s −R_{th}) ((1−A) \frac{z}{L_s} + A \, sin^\beta \, (\frac{\pi \, z}{2 \, L_s})) [/math]

[math] 0 ≤ z ≤ L_s [/math]

in the sine section, and

[math] \label{eq:fh2} R(z)= R_s+e^{\alpha(z−L_s)}−1; \; \alpha = \frac{1}{L_e} ln(R_{ap}−R_s) [/math]

[math] L_s ≤ z ≤ L_e + L_s [/math]

in the exponential region. Here, [math]R_{th}[/math] is the throat radius, [math]R_s[/math] is the sine squared region end radius (or exponential region initial radius), [math]R_{ap}[/math] is the aperture radius, [math]L_s[/math] is the sine squared region length and [math]L_e[/math] is the exponential region length. The parameter [math]A (0 ≤ A ≤ 1)[/math] modulates the first region profile between linear and pure sine squared type. The parameters [math]L_e/(L_e + L_s)[/math], [math]A[/math] and [math]R_s[/math] can be used to control, as far as possible, the position and frequency stability of the phase center and the compactness of the structure. The feed horn parameters are reported in table 3 below.

Table 3. LFI feed horn parameters. [math]R_{th}[/math]: Throat radius; [math]N_s[/math]: Number of corrugation of the [math]sin^\beta [/math] section; [math]R_s[/math]: end radius of [math]sin^\beta[/math] section; [math]A[/math]: tapering coefficient; [math]N_e[/math]: number of corrugation of the exponential section; [math]R_{ap}[/math]: final aperture diameter.

The qualification campaign, mainly focused on RF return loss and pattern (amplitude and phase) measurements, was successfully concluded. The agreement between the pattern measurements and the expected performances (simulated using nominal corrugation profile) is excellent both in amplitude and in phase. Moreover reflection measurements show a good impedance match for all the horns, the return loss being better than -30 dB over the whole 20% of operational bandwidth.

Details of the design, flight model and tests of Planck-LFI feed horns can be found in #villa2009.

OrthoMode Transducers (OMT)[edit]

The Ortho–Mode Transducer (OMTs) separates the radiation collected by the feed horn in two orthogonal polarisation components. It consists of a circular to square waveguide transition (directly connected to the FH), a square waveguide section and two separate rectangular waveguide (the through and side arms, which separate and pick up the orthogonal polarisation, connected with the FEU). On the side arms is always present a 90 degrees bend, while a twist is also necessary on the main (30 and 44 GHz) and side (70GHz) arm, in order to math the FEU polarisation.

The required and measured performances for the LFI OMTs at all frequencies are reported in the following tables 4 and 5:

Table 4. Performance Characteristics of the LFI OMTs based on measurements. The values are the worst values over the entire 20% of bandwidth.
OMT ID Bandwidth [GHz] X–Pol [dB] (Main) X–Pol [dB] (Side) Return–Loss [dB] (Main) Return–Loss [dB] (Side)
18 14 <29 <30 -15.0 -20.0
19 14 <26 <28 -15.0 -20.0
20 14 <32 <35 -15.0 -20.0
21 14 <32 <37 -15.0 -18.0
22 14 <26 <28 -15.0 -18.0
23 14 <26 <28 -15.0 -20.0
24 8.8 <38 <40 -13.0 -18.0
25 8.8 <31 <32 -13.0 -18.0
26 8.8 <27 <25 -13.0 -17.0
27 6 <38 <44 -16.0 -23.0
28 6 <36 <38 -16.0 -22.0
Table 5. Mean value of the IL over LFI bandwidth estimated at 20K and measured at room temperature.

The details of the flight models and measurements of the Planck LFI ortho-mode transducers can be found in #darcangelo2009b.

Front End Modules (FEM)[edit]

Front End Modules are located in the FPU, just in cascade of the Feed Horn and the Ortho Mode Transducers. 70 GHz FEMs are mounted onto the inner wall of the mainframe (the wall facing HFI instrument) from the HFI side. 44 and 30 GHz FEMs are inserted into the mainframe from the WG side and fixed to the bottom plate. Screws to bottom plate are inserted from WG side. The LFI FEMs are the first active stage of amplification of the radiometer chain. Each FEM contains four amplification paths. Each path is composed by several cascaded LNAs followed by a phase switch. Two passive hybrids, at the input and output of the FEM, are used to mix couples of signals of the same radiometer (see Figure 4). This makes the instabilities of each chain to be applied to both the sky and load signals.

The passive hybrid coupler (magic-tee) combines the signals from the sky and cold load with a fixed phase offset of either 90 deg or 180 deg between them. It has a 20% bandwidth, low loss, and amplitude balance needed at the output to ensure adequate signal isolation.

The FEM LNAs (InP MMIC) are biased providing 1 drain line per channel (that is 4 per FEM) and 2 gate lines per channel (that is 8 per FEM). The FEM Phase switches are biased providing 2 lines per channel (that is 8 per FEM) each capable of providing a direct bias current or a reverse bias voltage.

The LFI FEM parameters necessary to meet the science objectives at 30 and 44 GHz were given as requirements and goals and are summarised in table 6 below where they are compared with the values actually achieved. The FEM units meet the requirements, within the measurement errors, for most parameters and in particular the noise temperature. The units come close to the more stringent goals in several parameters. Of particular note are the noise temperatures achieved; these along with the wide bandwidths are critical for the high sensitivity required for the Planck mission. Some LNAs within the FEMs met the goals at 30 GHz and 44 GHz within the measurements errors and reached 3 and 5 times the theoretical quantum limit respectively at the band centres. Furthermore, a range of tests showed that LNAs and FEMs achieved the stability levels required to meet the observing strategy of Planck. In particular, the 1/f noise knee frequency ≤29 mHz, close to the goal, met the conditions imposed by the 60 second rotation period of the spacecraft. The linear polarization performance of the FEMs exceeded the requirements of the mission. The isolation between the E- and H- polarizations was measured to be between 51 and 58 dBs for the various FEMs. The LFI radiometers have very well determined position angle precision, being determined by the accuracy of the waveguide engineering. The 30 and 44 GHz geometry is accurate to ∼ [math]0.1^\circ \, [/math] ; the corresponding precision is ∼ [math]1^\circ \, [/math] in the HFI polarimeters. The temperature stability requirement values are also given in the table 6 below.

Table 6. Summary of the FEM goals, requirements and mean achieved performances.

The details of the design, development and verification of the 30 and 44 GHz front-end modules for the Planck Low Frequency Instrument can be found in #davis2009.

For what regards the 70 GHz channels, for the LNA selection of the FEMs, nine different wafers from various processing runs were evaluated, only the LNAs with the best performance were assembled as the first stage amplifiers in the FEM ACAs. For the phase switch selection, four different wafers were evaluated. When the signal is passed to an output, the gain is 35 dB or higher for almost the entire required range, and on average, the Planck requirement was fulfilled. In all FEMs, the average channel gains ranged from 34.0-40.0 dB (uncertainty ±0.1 dB). When the signal is isolated from an output, the gain is 20 dB lower or more at all frequencies. This difference in gain is used as the measure for isolation. In all the six FEMs, the channel isolation values ranged from 11.3-22.1 dB (uncertainty ±0.1 dB).

Table 7 below summarises the best, the worst and the average values of the key performance parameters. The shown uncertainties are based on worst case estimates.

Table 7. Summary of the 70 GHz Protoflight Model radiometer performance.

The details of the design, development and verification of the 70 GHz front-end modules for the Planck Low Frequency Instrument can be found in #varis2009.


The LFI Front End Unit (FEU) is connected to the Back End Unit (BEU) by 44 rectangular waveguides approximately 1.5-2.0 meter long. Each waveguide exhibits low VSWR, low thermal conductivity, low insertion loss, and low mass. In addition, the waveguide path shall permit the LFI/HFI integration and the electrical bonding between FPU and BEU. Because of the Focal Plane Unit arrangement, the waveguides are in general twisted and bended in different planes and with different angles, depending on the particular waveguide. From the thermal point of view the waveguides have to connect 2 systems (BEM and FEM) that are at very different temperatures. At BEM level the waveguides are at a temperature of 300K while at FEM level the temperature is 20K. The waveguides have to reduce the thermal flow from 300K to 20K. In Figure 1 (left panel) a conceptual sketch of the LFI configuration is shown.

All the required characteristics cannot be realized with single material waveguide configuration; a composite waveguide configuration is needed. The WGs can be considered divided in three sections: 1. 400 mm of Stainless Steel (gold plated) straight waveguide section, attached to the BEU, ending after the 3rd V–groove; 2. 300 mm of non–plated Stainless Steel (SS). The SS-sections are identical for all the channels except for internal dimensions, depending on frequency. These guides are connected to all the V-grooves in order to dissipate the heat produced at BEU level. 3. bended and twisted 400 microns thin electroformed copper waveguide starting at the end of the SS–section and attached to the FEU, whose length varying from around 800 mm to 1300 mm, with 2 to 4 Cu-joints. The copper waveguides section is connected to a mechanical support structure in five points in order to increase the stiffness of the waveguide.

The performance for the LFI waveguides at all frequencies are reported in the following table 8:

Table 8. Number of LFI waveguides and performances. The Insertion Loss (IL), Return Loss (RL) and Electrical Resistance (R) values are the requirements. In between parenthesis the goal is reported also. Note that the RL value includes possible degradation due to presence of flanges.
Frequency [math] \nu [/math] band [GHz] Number IL [dB] @20 K RL [dB] Isolation [dB] R [mΩ] @20 K R [mΩ] @300 K
30 27-33 8 <2.5 (1.0) <-25 <-30 11.8 27.3
44 39.6-48.4 12 <3.0 (1.5) <-25 <-30 14.7 34.1
70 63-77 24 <5.0 (3.5) <-25 <-30 26.2 60.5

From the thermal point of view the waveguides have to connect 2 systems (BEM and FEM) that are at different temperatures. At BEM level the waveguides are at a temperature of 300K while at FEM level the temperature is 20K. Along the Stainless Steel section the waveguides have to reduce the thermal flow from 300K to 20K. The Stainless Steel waveguide is connected to all the V-grooves in order to dissipate the heat produced at BEU level.

Details of the Planck-LFI flight model of the composite waveguides can be found in #darcangelo2009a.

Back End Modules (BEM)[edit]

The BEMs are composed by four identical channels each made of Low Noise Amplifiers (LNA), RF Band Pass Filter, RF to DC diode detector and DC amplifiers.

In the 30 GHz BEM, each LNA consists of two cascaded MMIC amplifiers. The Band Pass Filter is based on microstrip coupled line structure. Its design is a three order Chebyshev response band pass filter. The detector is composed by a hybrid reactive/passive matching network, and a Schottky diode. A commercial Agilent beam-lead and zero-bias diode was selected. The detector diode is followed by a low noise operational amplifier that provides most of the DC amplification. A second stage is implemented using an operational amplifier to provide a balanced bipolar output.

In the 44 GHz BEM, each LNA consists of self designed MMIC amplifiers manufactured with the process ED02AH from OMMIC which employs a 0.2 μm gate length Pseudomorphic-High Mobility Transistor (P-HEMT) on GaAs. The topology chosen for the band-pass filter is a third order Chebyshef band pass filter made on a PTFE substrate, based on microstrip coupled line structure. The detector is composed by a hybrid reactive/passive matching network and a Schottky diode. A commercial Agilent beam-lead and zero-bias diode was selected. The detector diode is followed by a low noise operational amplifier that provides most of the DC amplification. A second stage is implemented using an operational amplifier to provide a balanced bipolar output.

Table 9 below shows the values of the equivalent noise temperature for each flight model BEM at three different temperatures in the range of possible operating temperature. The large variability of the equivalent noise temperature of 44 GHz BEM units was due to their large dependence on the input matching network result, which was observed to be a very critical parameter, not easy to control during the assembly process of MMIC.

Table 9. Equivalent noise temperature of the BEM Flight models in Kelvin. (One unit of each band is a Flight Spare). Estimated error: ± 20 K.

The raw measurements of the output spectrum are used for the determination of the 1/f knee frequency. The results for the four channels of a 30 GHz BEM unit are given in the table below.

Table 10. 1/f knee frequency (Hz) of 30 GHz BEM unit.

The details of the design, development and verification of the 30 and 44 GHz back-end modules for the Planck Low Frequency Instrument can be found in #artal2009.

The 70 GHz BEM is constructed of machined aluminium with separate filter, amplifier/detector assemblies and an overall housing for other circuits and components. The FEM output signals are connected by waveguide from the Focal Plane Unit (FPU) assembly to the Back End Modules (BEM’s) housed adjacent to, the Data Acquisition Electronics (DAE) assembly. To maintain compatibility with the FEM’s, each BEM will accommodate, four receiver channels, from the four, waveguide outputs of each FEM. The BEM internal signal routes are not cross coupled and can be regarded as four identical parallel circuits. Each BEM is constructed as two mirror halves. The two amplifier/detector assemblies each contain two amplifier/detector circuits. Each is supplied from one of a pair of printed circuit boards which also house two DC output amplifiers.

The BEM filter characteristics hold very accurately for every channel in the six BEMs. The -3 dB pass band, 62-81 GHz, was the same in every filter within 0.5 GHz. The BEM frequency response was measured as a function of input microwave power. Also, the pass bands roll at almost exactly 63 GHz and 77 GHz. The linearity of the channel is very good as well, especially from -57 dBm upwards. The dynamic range was at least 15 dB from -57 dBm to -42 dBm. In three cases, the BEMs fulfilled the power consumption requirement, while the limit was exceeded for the other three. For the total six BEMs, the limit, 3.6 W, was exceeded by approximately 140 mW. Table 7 above summarises the best, the worst and the average values of the key performance parameters. The shown uncertainties are based on worst case estimates.

The details of the design, development and verification of the 70 GHz back-end modules for the Planck Low Frequency Instrument can be found in #varis2009.

4K Load[edit]

The purpose of the 4 K reference load is to provide the radiometer with a stable reference signal. Reducing the input offset (the radiometric temperature difference between the sky and the reference load) reduces the minimum achievable radiometer 1/f noise knee frequency for a given amplifier fluctuation spectrum. A reference load temperature that matches the sky temperature (approximately 2.7 K) would be ideal. In the 4KRL design, the reference temperature is provided by the HFI outer radiation shield, at a temperature around 4K. The 4KRL performance are reported in Table 11 below.

Table 11. RF measured performance for the 4KRL: RH (+WaveGuide) Insertion Loss, RH (+WG) RL, RH (+WG) + RT Return Loss. 70 GHz performance have been measured using a representative Reference Horn and waveguide, since RHs are internal to FEMs: this value is reported in the table. RCAs 24-26 are the LFI 44 GHz channels, 27 and 28 the 30 GHz ones. M and S refer to Main and Side OMT arm, respectively. [math]∗[/math] Measured on the FM RTs and a representative Reference Horn.

The 4K reference load unit is formed by single targets, one for each radiometer (two for each FEM). The horns used to couple to the 4 K reference load targets need to be relatively small because the targets themselves are small. An optimisation process produced a different horn design for each LFI band: their dimensions increase with reducing frequency. Due to the LFI Focal Plane design, where higher frequency radiometers (70 GHz) are placed around the HFI cryostat and the lower frequency radiometers (30 and 44 GHz) in a second row, the target mounting structure is separated in two parts, see Figure 5 below. The upper one is located around the conical part of the HFI outer shield. Reference targets are mounted on a supporting structure, thermally and mechanically connected to the HFI outer shield. Each target faces a reference horn, two for each FEM. This ensemble is fixed to a support structure on the HFI 4K shield. Thermal link between the mounting structure and the HFI is obtained via fixation point only. Thermal washers are interposed to damp temperature fluctuations on targets induced by the HFI outer shield temperature oscillations. The lower part is fixed in the cylindrical part. It is made with the same target geometry of the upper part, and it is fixed on the HFI shield. The reference horns face the loads and are connected to the FEMs through WGs. Reference WGs and RH (Reference Horns) are either included in the FEM (70 GHz) or external to FEM (30 and 44 GHz).

Figure 5. 4K reference load targets mounted on the HFI 4K shield

Targets are formed of a back section, made of ECCOSORB CR117, which shows higher RF absorption but also high reflectivity. To reduce the target global reflectivity, a front section, assembled with an ECCOSORB specific cement to the back one, faces the radiometer Reference Horn. This last is casted from ECCOSORB CR110, whose RF reflectivity is lower than that of CR117. Target design is optimised to further reduce both reflectivity and leakage. Each target is metal backed and it is mounted in a metal enclosure.

Thermal tests were performed in the IASF-Bo 4K cryo facility, equipped with a GM cooler, with an heat lift up to 1.5 W at 4K. The setup simulated the real environment in the payload, where targets are mounted on the HFI 4K shield in front of the quasi-cylindrical LFI main frame at about 20 K. It was also used to test the susceptibility to fluctuations of the LFI.

The thermo-mechanical damping was evaluated from the transient test, inducing sinusoidal temperature fluctuation with periods of 60, 600, 667 (typical Sorption Cooler period) and 1000 seconds at the level of the attachment point of the loads on the support structures. The fluctuation at the level of the targets is then acquired and the transfer function (amplitude and phase) are estimated by the ratio of the amplitudes. The final results are summarized in the table 12.

Table 12. Thermal fluctuation damping measured for the reference loads at different frequencies.
4krl t.jpg

Details of the design and performance of the LFI 4K reference load units are given in #valenziano2009.


The Radiometer Electronics Box Assembly (REBA) is the electronic box in charge of processing the digitized scientific data and to manage the overall instrument. It is also in charge of the communication with the spacecraft. There are two REBA boxes, one nominal and one redundant. The redundancy concept is cold, which means that both boxes are never ON at the same time; the operation of each unit shall be managed by the spacecraft switching-on the corresponding unit. The REBA ASW (Application SoftWare) is the same in each REBA box.

Each REBA consists of the following subunits:

  • The Power Supply Unit (PSU) which feeds the REBA unit. It consists of a DC/DC converter that converts the primary power received from the spacecraft PDU to the secondary regulated voltages required only by the REBA and provides galvanic isolation towards the spacecraft side of the interface. The PSU DC/DC converter also receives the On-Board Clock (OBC) from the CDMS that is used to increment the internal On Board Time register. There is no software interface with the REBA ASW.
  • The Data Acquisition Unit (DAU) performs the analogue to digital conversion of the analogue housekeeping data of the REBA itself (temperatures and voltages). The REBA ASW collects from the DAU the HK data.
  • The Signal Processing Unit (SPU) is a computing subunit in charge of the reduction and compression of the science data and implements part of the REBA ASW, the SPU ASW (stored in the EEPROM located in the DPU board and transferred to the SPU by the DPU ASW). It receives the science data from the DAE through a IEEE 1355 link implemented in a SMCS chip. A second IEEE 1355 link is used to control by link the remote DAE SMCS chip. The third IEEE 1355 link communicates with the DPU. A “Data Ready” electrical signal is connected between DAE and the SPU, this signal produces an interruption in the SPU when the DAE is ready to transfer data.
  • The Digital Processing Unit (DPU) is a computing subunit and implements part of the REBA ASW, the DPU ASW. The DPU is in charge of the control and monitoring of the instrument as well as the communication with the spacecraft (CDMS). It contains another SMCS chip with 3 IEEE 1355 links that communicate with the SPU, and the DAE. A MIL-STD 1553B link is used to communicate with the CDMS. One IEEE 1355 link is used by the DPU ASW to communicate with the DAE to control by link the SMCS chip of DAE, the second one is used to communicate with the DAE to transfer commands and HK and the third one is used by DPU ASW to communicate with the SPU (commands and TM). Two Reset electrical lines are provided by the DPU to reset each of the two SMCS chips of DAE. The DPU ASW is stored in the EEPROM.

A detailed description of the Planck LFI REBA can be found in #herreros2009.

Instrument On-board Software[edit]

The REBA software is the on board software of LFI. It is installed in the two computing subunits of REBA: the DPU, responsible of the control and monitoring of the instrument and the interface with the spacecraft and; the SPU, responsible of the data reduction and compression. The REBA software can be classified (see Figure 6) into:

1. the REBA Start-up Software (SUSW), installed in the PROM memories, which is the bootstrap code to switch on both the subunits;
2. the Application Software (ASW), which performs the nominal operations of the REBA;
3. the REBA Low Level Software Drivers (LLSWDRV) which are functions provided to the ASW to access the hardware capabilities.
Figure 6. REBA Software, high level product tree

The SPU SUSW and DPU SUSW, located in the PROM memories of SPU and DPU, respectively, are in charge of the booting of the subunits.

The REBA ASW performs the following main functions:

  • SPU ASW reduction and compression of the scientific data;
  • DPU ASW: control and monitoring of the instrument, interface with the spacecraft to transfer data and receive commands to/from ground, communication with the SPU SUSW during the start-up procedure to load the SPU ASW.

The REBA ASW checks periodically the following parameters:

− Science TM rate produced on board in order to control the filling of the spacecraft mass memory;
− CPU load of the SPU;
− Focal Plane temperature sensors;
− The communication links between REBA and DAE.

In case of deviations from nominal values, the REBA ASW activates autonomy functions that put the instrument in a safe state or recover from non-nominal situations. Autonomy functions allows to:

- Re-enable, in some cases, previously disabled science processing;
- Switch-off the Front End Unit by sending Disable RCA DC/DC commands to the DAE;
- Try to resume the communication between REBA and DAE or ask the CDMS to switch off the RAA.

The DPU ASW reports the activation of any autonomous function by sending to the CDMS an event report. The REBA monitors some LFI HK parameters in order to manage to some extent the safety of the instrument.

Reduction and Compression of Science Data[edit]

To asses stability against 1/f noise, the Low Frequency Instrument (LFI) on-board the Planck mission will acquire data at a rate much higher than the data rate allowed by the science telemetry bandwidth of 35.5 kbps. The data are processed by an on-board pipeline, followed on-ground by a decoding and reconstruction step, to reduce the volume of data to a level compatible with the bandwidth while minimizing the loss of information. The on-board processing of the scientific data used by Planck/LFI to fit the allowed data-rate is an intrinsically lossy process which distorts the signal in a manner which depends on a set of five free parameters ([math] N_{aver}, r_1, r_2, q, O \,[/math]) for each of the 44 LFI detectors. Here we briefly describe the characteristics of this algorithm and the level of distortion introduced by the on-board processing as a function of these parameters. A full description of the Planck LFI on-board data handling system and the tuning and optimization method of the on-board processing chain can be found in #maris2009.

The strategy adopted to fit into the bandwidth relies on three on-board processing steps: downsampling, pre-processing the data to ensure loss-less compression, and loss-less compression itself. To demonstrate these steps, a model of the input signal shall be used. It has to be noted that while the compression is loss-less, the pre-processing is not, due to the need to rescale the data and convert them in integers, (a process named data re-quantizzation). However, the whole strategy is designed to asses a strict control of the way in which lossy operations are done, of the amount of information loss in order to asses optimal compression rate with minimal information loss.

A schematic representation of the sequence in which these steps are applied on-board and whenever possible reversed on-ground is given in figure 7 below.

Figure 7. Schematic representation of the scientific onboard and ground processing for the Planck/LFI. Cyan boxes represent REBA operations, yellow boxes ground operations. Green pads specify the parameters needed by each operation. TOI could be produced both in undifferentiated form ([math] T_{sky}, \, T_{load} \, [/math] stored separately) or in differentiated form.

The figure refers to a single radiometer chain and is ideally splitted into two parts: the upper part depicts the on-board processing with cyan boxes denoting the main steps. The corresponding on-ground processing is depicted in the lower part with the main steps colored in yellow. Green pads represents the processing parameters. The first four of them are referred to as REBA parameters, and they are applied both on-board and on-ground. The parameters are: the number of ADC raw samples to be coadded to form an instrumental sample, [math]N_{aver}[/math], the two mixing parameters [math]r_1, r_2 [/math], the offset [math] O[/math] to be added to data after mixing and prior to re-quantization, and the re-quantization step [math]q[/math]. It is important to note that the on-board parameters are set by telecommands and are stamped in each scientific packet. The gain modulation factor, [math]r[/math] (see Eq. \ref{eq:erre1} in RCA section above), is a parameter of the ground processing and is computed from the total power data received on ground. The final products in the form of Time Ordered Data (TOI) either in total power or differentiated are stored in an archive represented by the light-blue cylinder.

All the needed optimization steps are performed by an automated software tool, the Onboard Computing Analysis (OCA), which simulates the on-board processing, explores the space of possible combinations of parameters, and produces a set of statistical indicators, among them: the compression rate [math]C_r[/math] and the processing noise [math]\epsilon_Q[/math]. For Planck/LFI it is required that [math]C_r = 2.4[/math] while, as for other systematics, [math]\epsilon_Q \,[/math] would have to be less than 10% of rms of the instrumental white noise. An analytical model is developed that is able to extract most of the relevant information on the processing errors and the compression rate as a function of the signal statistics and the processing parameters to be tuned. This model is of interest for the instrument data analysis to asses the level of signal distortion introduced in the data by the on-board processing.

Once the instrument is completed tuned and stable, a tuning process is applied in order to optimize the REBA parameters. The procedure foresees to acquire chunks of about 15 minutes of averaged data to be analyzed by OCA. After setting the (optimized) REBA parameters, another session of 15 minutes of acquisition is applied, this time with the nominal processing.

The values for the optimal REBA parameters are mainly determined by the frequency of the radiometric channel with some dispersion from detector to detector. Table 13 below gives representative median values for [math]r_1, \, r_2, \, q \, [/math] from on ground System Level tests (CSL) as well as for the quantities in figure 8 below and the resulting data rate. [math] O[/math] is omitted since it is the most variable parameter and it has no significant impact on [math]\epsilon_q[/math] and [math]C_r[/math]. Table 13 below reports also the number of detectors for each frequency channel, the [math]N_{aver}[/math] values which are kept constant, the compressed data rate per detector, per frequency channel and for the instrument as a whole. Quantities are reported in the form [math]x ± \delta x[/math] where [math]\delta x[/math] represents the standard deviation taken as a measure of the internal dispersion of [math]x[/math] within the given subset of detectors, this number must not be interpreted as an error and it must not be propagated.

The performance has been verified against the requirements with the result that the required data rate of 35.5 kbps has been achieved while keeping the processing error at a level of 3.8% of the instrumental white noise and well below the target 10% level.

Figure 8. Results for a typical session of REBA parameters tuning during the CSL test campaign. From top to bottom the figure reports for each detector the mean [math]C_r, \, \epsilon_{q,sky}/\sigma_{sky}, \, \epsilon_{q,load}/\sigma_{load}, \, \epsilon_{q,diff}/\sigma_{diff} \, [/math] where [math]\sigma_{diff}[/math] is the r.m.s. of the differentiated data. The red line in background of the top frame denotes the target [math] C_r^{Tgt} = 2.4[/math]. Values are represented by bars. Light-bars are the results from the calibration phase, where raw data from the instrument are processed by OCA. Dark-bars are results from the verification phase, where processing is performed on-board. The second frame from Top gives an example for detector 00 of Feed-Horn #19. Feed-horns are numbered according to the internal Planck/LFI convention assigning at Planck/LFI the Feed-Horns numbers from #18 to #28. Detectors belonging to the same Feed-Horn are grouped together as shown in the third frame from top.
Table 13. Representative REBA Parameters, the measured [math]C_r[/math] and relative processing errors from the CSL tests for Planck/LFI. Detectors are grouped by frequency channel, for each quantity x the table reports its group median and group standard deviation [math]\delta x[/math] as a measure of the group internal dispersion, [math]\delta x[/math] must be not considered as an error.

In flight the procedure is to acquire continuously data by using the nominal processing. Short chunks of unprocessed data is daily acquired in turn from each detector. The comparison of unprocessed with processed data allows to monitor of the processing error. In addition the REBA tuning might be repeated daily on the chunk of unprocessed data in order to test whether some REBA parameters on-board the satellite should be changed or not.

Instrument Operations[edit]

LFI Operational Modes[edit]

The operations of the LFI are designed to be automatic and require little if any intervention from the ground. A small amount of commands is required for operating the instrument and eventually for diagnostic and reconfiguration purposes. Each sky survey is conducted by the LFI with the instrument in the Normal Operations Mode mode. No deployable elements, or mechanically moving parts are included in the instrument. The scanning of the sky is achieved by progressive repointing of the satellite spin axis, with the Sun direction always within a cone 10 degrees from the spin axis. Within the Normal Science Mode the instrument can be configured in order to fit with different science or diagnostic needs without changing the power consumption and thus the temperature in the FPU. Changes in power consumption in the FPU are minimised and should occur only in the case that failures in the radiometers that could create interference problems require an RCA to be switched off. Power adjustments on the first stage of the HEMT amplifiers which are contemplated, require extremely small power level variations.

Figure 9. LFI Operating Modes and their nominal transitions

A scheme of the nominal transitions between the LFI Operation Modes are shown in Figure 9, a brief summary is given below.

1. OFF MODE: During this operating mode the instrument is completely off for example during the launch.
2. STAND-BY: During this mode only the REBA can be operated. It is the first interface to the instrument whenever the LFI is switched on. When the instrument is in this mode the RAA must be OFF because no data can be received and no control is possible on the radiometer chains.
3. DAE SET-UP: During this mode the REBA and the DAE are ON, but no radiometer chains are active. Nevertheless science data can be generated and contain only the background noise of the instrument.
4. NORMAL SCIENCE: During this mode the RAA is seen by the REBA as a set of 44 independent instruments. This means that each instrument can be operated, by the same SW, in different modes without affecting the LFI modes. Science data from the DAE are continuously acquired by the REBA that decides, on the basis of the activation table, which packets (either science or diagnostic) have to be produced. The whole set of HK is continuously acquired and sent to ground. This mode is the nominal for the LFI observation operations.
5. EXTENDED SCIENCE: This mode is similar to the previous except that for the total amount of telemetry sent to the ground. In fact this mode shall be used when, in particular cases, (e.g. calibration…) a larger telemetry rate is needed and made available by an agreement with HFI and the CDMS.

During launch, for contingency situations and/or to allow diagnostics of other spacecraft subsystems (e.g. HFI or others) LFI is in the OFF mode. When, upon a command from ground the REBA is powered on, the instrument is in its STAND-BY mode. A step-by-step bootstrap procedure commanded from ground documented by HK is initialized to turn the DAE on. This sets-up the internal communications, and allows the LFI subsystems to collect and deliver a full set of HK. The instrument is in DAE SET-UP mode. The following step is to upload from ground the DAE settings and processing parameters; then, to switch on the RCA on ground command. At this stage, on ground command, the acquisition of science data can start. A further step is needed to move to NORMAL SCIENCE, namely start processing and compressing the science raw data. When this is accomplished, science packets can be sent to ground.


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  1. References


(Planck) Low Frequency Instrument

Feed Horn

LFI Ortho Module Transducer

LFI cryogenic amplifying stage Front End Unit

LFI cryogenic amplifying stage Front End Module

Focal Plane Unit

(Planck) High Frequency Instrument

LFI Waveguide

LFI warm electronics Back End Unit

LFI warm electronics Back End Module

High Electron Mobility Transistor

LFI Data Acquisition Electronics

LFI Radiometer Electronics Box Assembly

Command and Data Management System

House Keeping

Signal Processing Unit

Data Processing Unit

LFI Radiometer Chain Assembly

LFI Radiometer Array Assembly

analog to digital converter

Centre Spatial de Liège

[LFI meaning]: absolute calibration refers to the 0th order calibration for each channel, 1 single number, while the relative calibration refers to the component of the calibration that varies pointing period by pointing period.