Project description upr partnership for research and education in astronomy and astrophysics

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We propose to establish a partnership for research and education in radio, optical astronomy and astrophysics between The University of Puerto Rico (UPR), the National Atmospheric and Ionosphere Center (NAIC) in Arecibo, Gettysburg College and the University of California at Santa Barbara (Kavly Institute) under the guidelines of NSF’s PAARE Program. As a direct result of this partnership the number of publications by Hispanic faculty and undergraduate students will increase and the number of Hispanic students entering graduate programs in astronomy and astrophysics will rise.


1. Rafael Muller, PI Professor Physics and Electronics Dept. UPR at Humacao

2-Juan Carlos Cersosimo Profesor Physics and Electronics Dept. UPR at Humacao

3-Maira Lebron Santos Assistant Professor Phys Science Dept UPR at Rio Piedras

4-Ernesto Esteban Professor Physics and Electronics Dept. UPR at Humacao

5-Myrna Ayala Professor Dept of Education UPR at Humacao

6-José Alonso Professor Dept of Phys and Math UPR at Cayey

7-Murray Lewis Head, Radio Astronomy NAIC (Arecibo)

8-Tapasi Ghosh Senior Research Associate NAIC (Arecibo)

9-Chris Salter Senior Research Associate NAIC (Arecibo)

10- Ellen Howell Research Associate NAIC (Arecibo)

11-Lawrence Marshall Professor Dept of Physics Gettysburg College

The Steering Committee

1- Cathy Eastwood Dept of Physics and Astronomy Northern Arizona University

2- Michael M. Davis Past Site Director NAIC (Arecibo) Retired

3- Hector Arce Dept of Astronomy Yale University


This program has as its main goals:

  1. To establish long term collaborations that will result in more research opportunities for Hispanic faculty and undergraduate students at the UPR

  2. To provide more educational opportunities and enrichment in astronomy for Hispanic undergraduate students to increase the number of them entering graduate school

The Mission of UPRPREAA is to establish a long-term collaborative research and education partnership between the University of Puerto Rico, the University of California at Santa Barbara (Kavly Institute), the NAIC at Arecibo, and the Gettysburg College that will result in an increase in the participation of Hispanics in research and in careers in astronomy. This PAARE project will drive the start of new collaborations. The benefits of this UPRPREAA program will reach a wider population by supporting an outreach program for students and high school teachers in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

The UPRPREAA program will facilitate access to researchers from the University of Puerto Rico using the Arecibo Radio telescope in their research and will also enable their students to learn and train in this world-class facility. This partnership will open the doors of a unique research and teaching facility for faculty and students at the Campuses of the University of Puerto Rico, allowing them to exploit the facilities of the Arecibo Observatory of NAIC (an NSF funded national center for research). This partnership will become an instrument through which students at the University of Puerto Rico will develop skills and increase knowledge in physics, astronomy, electronics and computing.

Puerto Ricans are significantly under-represented among the nation’s astronomers and astrophysicists. The local availability of the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope, plus the collaboration of a leading national radio astronomy Center with the University of Puerto Rico’s teaching and research facilities provides a remarkable opportunity to ‘kick-start’ activities for training Puerto Rican students in skills and knowledge that will fit them for important roles in science, engineering and technology. The Puerto Rican students that participate in the Arecibo experience will most likely enter the pipeline to graduate programs in astronomy and astrophysics, and so increase the representation of this minority group in the field.

Other areas of astronomy will be represented in this project. Optical astronomy will be represented by a partnership with Arecibo and Gettysburg College, making use of currently available optical facilities at Gettysburg and Flagstaff, Arizona. Astrophysics will be represented by a relation with the Kavly Institute at Santa Barbara, California.


1-To establish collaborative research projects in radio, optical astronomy and


2- To bring on-board promising undergraduate and high school students by means of

undergraduate research and science fair projects in astronomy and astrophysics

3-Train undergraduate students in the construction of those dedicated electronics

components used in astronomy

4-Offer the students involved in undergraduate research the opportunity of gathering

data on site at the radio and optical facilities.

5-To strengthen the infrastructure for research and education in astronomy at the UPR

6-To develop an effective outreach program in Astronomy and astrophysics

7-To promote UPRPREAA as a model of a successful collaboration


UPRPREAA will undertake the following activities to fulfill its objectives so as to enable faculty and students to enrich their research and educational efforts in astronomy.

1- The Arecibo Observatory, the University of Puerto Rico and the participants

from the Gettysburg College and the Kavly Institute are all committed to the collaborative research projects (described in the collaborative research projects section).

2-In addition to creating on-going collaborations during the academic year,

UPRPREAA will support summer research work at Arecibo, California, and

observing runs at Flagstaff by the faculty and students of the University of

Puerto Rico (UPR), and these will also include gifted high school students pursuing science fair projects.

3- UPRPREAA will also serve as a platform for the recruitment of astronomy

faculty members at the UPR campuses, as positions are opened through

retirement; the UPRPREAA will also serve to attract young, minority astronomy faculty to UPR to join the partnership.

4-Importantly, the UPRPREAA will enable access by UPR faculty and students

to all research and educational facilities of the Arecibo Observatory, including

access to the library and instrumentation facilities, allowing minority faculty and

students access to world-class facilities for their research and education.
5-The UPRPREAA partnership will be enhanced trough the use of videoconference

facilities at Arecibo, California and the various campuses of the UPR.

Teleconferencing will be used as a real time communication link to facilitate the

exchange of information directly among research partners and also for all

educational purposes.

6- The staff, post-docs and graduates in residence at the Arecibo Observatory, and

the partners at Gettysburg College and in California will provide seminars to the

students at the UPR campuses on a regular basis using the available

teleconference facilities. The UPRPREAA faculty at UPR campuses will also

offer seminars via teleconference on the progress of their research projects.

7- UPRPREAA will enable faculty and student exchange throughout the

academic year as needed and as possible to facilitate the research partnerships

8- UPRPREAA will facilitate summer visits of students to the Arecibo

Observatory and other sites as needed for the research projects

9- UPRPREAA will fund courses in astronomy and astrophysics to be offered to

interested undergraduates. It will also sponsor seminars and workshops offered by

members of the partnership.

10- UPRPREAA will fund astronomy workshops for high school science teachers

Targeting those from public schools that are the main feeders of the UPR

campuses involved in the UPRPREAA. The workshops will include presentations

of the research efforts of the partners and undergraduate students with the

objective of encouraging teachers to motivate their students to follow careers

in astronomy and astrophysics. One very important workshop will take place

after the phase reference 11.3 meters antenna is up and running (see radio

research program below), and school teachers can be trained in data acquisition

in radio astronomy.

11-All partners will participate in an annual research and education presentation

meeting conducted either at the Humacao UPR facilities or at the Arecibo radio

telescope visitor’s center facilities. This activity, which will take place at the

same time as the meeting of the steering committee, will serve as a

focus for promoting the partnership among all science faculty in the

campuses and the staff at the NAIC facilities so as to, in one short activity,

evaluate our progress, inform the broader community, and promote UPRPREAA.
The research and education activities will be centered on three main areas: Radio astronomy, optical astronomy, and astrophysics



HAAT -- the''Humacao-Arecibo Astrometric Telescope'' -- is a radio telescope planned to fill two separate, yet complementary, roles in a long-term collaborative partnership between UPR-Humacao and the Arecibo Observatory. These are:

(1) To provide a unique research and teaching facility for the University of Puerto Rico, allowing them to exploit the facilities of the Arecibo Observatory of NAIC (an NSF-funded national center for research.) In this guise HAAT would serve as an instrument with which students and staff at UPR and other Puerto Rican universities can develop skills and gain knowledge in physics, astronomy, electronics, and computing. This would apply from the classroom, through the teaching and research laboratories, to the use of the facilities of NAIC for full-scale research projects.

(2) NAIC itself sees the occasional use of HAAT as a phase reference antenna for improving the performance of its 305 m antenna in VLBI programs open to all scientists of the US and elsewhere.

The 305-m Arecibo radio telescope is the worlds largest, most sensitive, single-dish radio telescope. It is equipped with receivers between 47 MHz and 10 GHz. In addition to its single-dish capabilities, the Arecibo 305-m radio telescope also participates in Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) observations with the VLBA, HSA, EVN and Global VLBI networks. At present, all observing time on the 305-m telescope is granted via a highly competitive peer review process, open to researchers world wide. Although not unknown, opportunities for undergraduates to utilize it, or gain hands-on experience in radio sciences by building equipment for it have been very limited.

In order to broaden the range of scientific possibilities it offers its users, while enhancing the educational and outreach facilities of the Observatory, NAIC is currently in the process of acquiring an auxiliary 11.3-m radio telescope to be located nearby. Such an instrument would have scientific capabilities that are both complementary to, and independent of, the 305-m telescope that would be available for educational programs in partnership with Puerto Rican educational institutions as described in this proposal. We foresee the antenna being scheduled in support of Arecibo user operations with the 305-m telescope for a maximum of ~10 % of its time. All other time (apart from maintenance) would be available for integration into the educational and research needs of UPR, and Public Outreach ventures in collaboration with the UPR and the Observatory's Visitor Center. We expect the antenna to become operational within 18 months after startup of this proposal (January 15, 2009), so the antenna will be used for teacher’s hands-on workshops during the third year of this project. Thus, NAIC’s involvement in the development of HAAT would be a contribution from it to the training of Puerto Rican scientists, engineers and technicians, and would enhance the options it offers its user base for astronomy and planetary physics

Below, we detail some of the specific scientific and education activities that can benefit from this auxiliary telescope, HAAT. The following scientific directions will form the basis of a partnership between UPR, led by its Humacao campus, and NAIC/ Arecibo Observatory.

One of the major aspects of this collaboration is the construction of a C-band receiver for the phase-reference antenna. This collaborative project will involve students from Humacao’s Associate Degree Program in Electronics Technology that will remain in residence at Arecibo for at least one or two summer seasons under the guidance of an electrical engineer from Humacao in the assembly of the receiver. The faculty at the Humacao campus includes four electrical engineers. Funds are requested for the summer salary and release time during two academic years for one engineer from Humacao to supervise the construction of the device in coordination with staff from Arecibo. Salary is requested also for one electronics technician for the accomplishment of this educational activity that will be most significant for the partnership.

5.1.2 Pre- Phase Referencing Research
Collaborators: J.C. Cersosimo (UPR-Humacao), Chris Salter (NAIC-AO), Tapasi Ghosh (NAIC-AO)
There are various research projects that will precede HAAT and that belong to the research effort that must be done in the 18 months prior to HAAT becoming operational.
5.1.3 A Broad-impact VLBI Measurement of Trigonometric Parallaxes within Star Clusters:
In an impressive work using the VLBA at 8 GHz, Menten et al. (2007, A&A, 474, 515) have determined the trigonometric parallax of several stars in the Orion BN/KL region. This has allowed them to derive the most accurate value so far for the distance to this

region, about an order of magnitude better than the previous value determined from the optical parallax measurement of a single star in this complex by Hipparcos. Luminosity-based distance estimates of star-forming regions could be adversely affected

by poorly known extinctions, and the new radio technique of Menten et al. is an important way to improve the estimation of distances, and hence luminosities, with subsequent impact on star-formation theories.
5.1.4 Stellar (radio/optical) Astrometry:
In a white paper submitted to the NSF Exo Planet Task Force, Bower et al. (arXiv:astro-ph/0704.0238v1) explore the possibility of ``Radio Astrometric Detection and Characterization of Extra-Solar Planets". Utilizing the better than 100-microarcsec positional accuracy routinely achieved with the VLBA, they propose carrying out a Radio Interferometric Planet search (RIPL) that will survey 29 low-mass, active (radio-loud) M-dwarf stars over 3 years. This would have sub-Jovian planet mass sensitivity at distances of about 1~AU from the star.

They also note that, ``Radio astrometric planet searches occupy a unique volume in planet discovery and characterization parameter space. The parameter space of astrometric searches gives greater sensitivity to planets at large radii than do radial velocity searches. For the VLBA and the expanded VLBA, the targets of radio astrometric surveys are by necessity nearby, low-mass, active stars, which cannot be studied efficiently through the radial velocity method, coronography, or optical interferometry.''

5.1.5 Detection Experiments:

Present-day VLBI offers the highest sensitivity radio astronomical observations yet achieved, with noise levels approaching 1 mJy/ beam being attained with arrays using the world's most sensitive telescopes, and in particular the Arecibo 305-m dish. Hence, the 305-m telescope is being increasingly used in experiments to detect very weak, very compact, astronomical targets, such as radio emission from X-ray stars, distant supernovae and their remnants, Gamma-Ray Bursts, red-dwarf and other stars.

Again, for these sensitivity levels to be reached for targets of very low intensity, it is essential that the observations use phase-referencing with the 305 m antenna.
5.1.6 VLBI -- Phase Referencing:
Phase referencing in Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) observations has made it possible to study very weak radio sources by increasing the effective coherence time for them from, at maximum, a few minutes to hours. Currently, some 50 % of VLBI observations are carried out using the phase-referencing technique.

However, phase referencing observations encounter limitations with the Arecibo 305-m telescope. The Gregorian dome, located on a suspended platform, has slow slew rates (24o/min in azimuth, 2o.4 /min in zenith angle.) Hence, in a typical nodding-style, phase-referenced observation, where the calibrator could be located 3o or more from the target, a significant amount of observing time, often ≥ 50 %, is wasted slewing between the two sources, leading to a significant loss in signal-to-noise ratio. However, phased-referenced VLBI observations could be performed using the small telescope in which, this ``auxiliary'' telescope tracks the phase calibrator, while the 305-m antenna observes the target most of the time, and the effects due to ionospheric phase fluctuations can be derived from the data coming from the small telescope and applied to the target data from the 305-m dish.

A number of the four standard VLBI frequency bands below 10 GHz will in due course be required to be serviced by the auxiliary antenna. While a separate VLBI backend and recorder may be required for the auxiliary antenna, it might be possible to time-share a single system, as is also envisaged for the maser time/frequency standard

In searching for an economical solution to obtaining an ``auxiliary'' antenna at Arecibo for use in phase-referenced VLBI (and other roles) and to be operated in partnership with the Humacao Campus of the UPR and NAIC, we recently learned that NASA/Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) had moth-balled their 11.3-m antenna (DSS-33), earlier used as a HALCA/VSOP earth station, and were looking for somebody who would be interested in taking over the dish. This indeed looks a potentially acceptable option for the auxiliary dish, and we have expressed our interest to NASA and are in the process to bring it to Arecibo.

The effective area yields a point-source sensitivity of 0.023 K/Jy. The similar values for aperture efficiency at X and Ku bands suggest that the antenna will work well to at least a frequency of 15 GHz, meaning that it will operate efficiently across the complete frequency range of the upgraded 305-m telescope (327~MHz to 10~GHz).

With a system temperature of T deg K, this would give a system equivalent flux density

if HAAT were to have a similar Tsys to a VLBA telescope at this wavelength, then the baseline sensitivity for an 11-m to a VLBA antenna (1-) would be ~22 mJy/beam. This implies that, at the 5- level, sources brighter than about 110mJy/beam will be suitable for phase referencing. This includes the majority of sources from the various sections of the VLBA Calibrator Survey.
5.1.7 Phase-Referencing Research
Collaborators: J.C. Cersosimo (UPR-Humacao), Chris Salter (NAIC-AO), Tapasi Ghosh (NAIC-AO)

The range of research projects will be extended once phase referencing with the HAAT antenna becomes a reality, hopefully, about 18 months after the start of UPRPREAA

5.1.8 A Broad-impact VLBI Measurement of Trigonometric Parallaxes within Star Clusters
The inclusion of the Arecibo radio telescope with phase referencing will permit us to study fainter, more distant, star forming regions, since the detection sensitivity will be increased by a factor of four. Thus we propose to study fainter, more distant star forming regions using the new capability
5.1.8 Stellar Astrometry

Current measurement errors are limited by the number of nearby compact sources that are well above the detection threshold of their observations and which can be used as reference sources in their differential measurements. The addition of Arecibo in such surveys would increase the detection sensitivity by a factor of four, making it possible to venture into the study of objects with one third of the mass of Jupiter as companions of similar stellar types. As Arecibo’s primary beam is much smaller than other telescopes, and the slew rate slower, the availability of HAAT for phase referencing would be highly beneficial for taking such studies down to thermally emitting “radio” stars. We propose to extend the astrometric measurements of compact sources using these new capabilities of Arecibo with the phase reference antenna

5.1.9 Using HAAT as an Independent Single Dish

Collaborators: Juan Carlos Cersocimo (UPR-Humacao), Chris Salter (NAIC-AO)
Full-Stokes Galactic Plane continuum Survey with HAAT:

The 11.3-m HAAT telescope, together with existing Arecibo backends, will enable the making of full-Stokes continuum surveys using the cooled dual-channel receivers that will be built for use with the dish.

Full-Stokes continuum surveys of the wider Galactic plane at high frequencies using HAAT would provide unique databases in a number of ways. Firstly, they would yield full spatial frequency mapping at a number of previously unmapped wavelengths, with competitive resolution for such extended features as the Galactic background emission, HII region complexes, and middle-aged to old supernova remnants (SNRs). Comparison with the existing lower frequency surveys would allow accurate estimation of the spectral index distribution over these features, providing the ability to perform accurate thermal/non-thermal separation on angular scales between 1deg. and < 10 arc min. This would allow the study of energy injection to the interstellar medium (ISM), the energy losses of relativistic particles associated with SNRs, and the mechanisms of vertical transport & diffusion of energy from the disk of the Galaxy into the halo and intergalactic space.
Simultaneously recorded linear polarization measurements are of especial importance. The appearance of the polarized sky at wavelengths > 21 cm is complex. Westerbork at 327 MHz for high Galactic latitudes and the Canadian Galactic Plane Survey at 1.4 GHz have shown that there is little relationship between total intensity and polarization structures. In fact for diffuse Galactic synchrotron emission, the bulk of the area of the Galactic Plane imaged on arc minute scales at L-band reveals highly structured polarization features with no counterparts in Stokes I. Thus the low-frequency polarized sky is dominated by propagation effects rather than by intrinsic emission structure. This field of study is now moving from phenomenology to astrophysics.

The signals produced by the Faraday Screen are rather weak, and the limited surface brightness sensitivity of interferometers samples only the strongest. Even for these, the derived rotation measures (RMS) are noisy due to low signal-to-noise per channel. Moreover, the lack of zero-spacings in interferometric observations leads to complications in interpretation. The high brightness sensitivity of HAAT, coupled with a few arc minute beam size at high frequencies, promises major advances in the study of the magneto-ionic medium. At these frequencies the effects of Faraday rotation become tiny and HAAT can measure linear polarization whose position angles are essentially those intrinsic to the emission. These can provide both intrinsic directions of magnetic fields, and a database against which the lower frequency polarization distributions can be definitively interpreted.

With an appropriate combination of observing frequency, bandwidth and spectral resolution, it should be possible to perform Faraday tomography, wherein the spectral polarized intensity modulations along a given sight-line can be transformed to a set of polarized intensities as a function of Faraday depth (i.e. RM). Thus, it should be possible to derive a polarized-intensity data cube (quite like a spectral-line data cube) with two dimensions being the sky coordinates and the third being RM. High-frequency images from HAAT would be invaluable in pursuing this endeavor.

Away from the Galactic plane, the high latitude regions contain several well-known non-thermal emission structures. Most notable is the North Polar Spur (Loop 1), an object that contains rich, small-scale structure, both on its main arc and in internal ridging. Above b = 45 deg, even low resolution Dwingeloo measurements have shown this nearby old SNR to be > 70% linearly polarized at 1.4~GHz. HAAT images at a few cm wavelength would directly reveal magnetic field directions in this object who’s RMS are low.

We should specifically mention the L-band Arecibo GALFA Continuum Transit Survey (GALFACTS), which is being undertaken by an international consortium of astronomers led by Prof. Russ Taylor (U. Calgary). This full-Stokes survey of the whole sky observable with the 305-m telescope, covers the frequency range of 1225 -- 1525~MHz, with 8192 frequency channels to study both the total-intensity and polarized distribution of the celestial radiation. At L-band, the effect of Faraday rotation on the linearly polarized radiation is considerable, as the GALFACTS precursor survey demonstrates complex structure both spatially and in frequency. A continuum survey at much higher frequency, but similar resolution, would be invaluable when combined with GALFACTS, both to allow thermal/non-thermal separation, and to aid in Faraday tomography of the linear polarization data. The same situation for enhancing synergy exists in respect to that part of the Southern Galactic Plane Survey, an L-band continuum survey being made with the Parkes that would be accessible to the HAAT antenna.

Collaborators: Ellen Howell (NAIC-Arecibo), R.J. Muller (UPR at Humacao), Lawrence Marshall (Gettysburg College)

Combining Radar and Optical Observations of Asteroids
New types of near-Earth asteroids are still being discovered. Moreover, the optical surveys that are about to come on-line will discover new, and even smaller asteroids at more than ten times the current rate over the next few years. We therefore expect to continue to make surprising discoveries about these objects. Radar observation of asteroids is a powerful tool to extract information about their physical properties and orbits. Further, when their echoes are strong enough, the Arecibo radar can achieve an imaging resolution of about 10 meters.

Dr Ellen Howell, in collaboration with Dr Michael Nolan and Dr Chris Magri (Univ. of Maine at Farmington), use extremely computer-intensive asteroid shape-modeling software to generate models from the radar images. These have been generated for five objects over the past two years, and several more are in progress. Radar-derived models are ideal for refining simplistic models and for constraining the rotational period of an object. One astrometric radar measurement of an object increases the precision of its orbit by an order of magnitude as compared to that from a set of optical measurements. Nevertheless, the combination of an optical light curve with a set of radar measurements is important in constraining a model’s shape, which in turn gives us insight into the asteroid’s dynamics and internal structure.

When the rotation period of the asteroid is obtained from its light curve, its sub-Earth latitude can be determined from the Doppler width of its radar echo. But the shape derived solely from a light curve cannot elucidate any concave zones it may have on its surface. These are, however, imaged by radar. The combination of optical light-curves with radar images is very effective.

We propose to institute a Radar-Optical partnership to increase the number of asteroids for combining radar observations from Arecibo with light curves obtained from the Gettysburg College 0.4 m reflector and/or the NURO 0.8 m telescope at Anderson Mesa, east of Flagstaff, Arizona. Dr Ellen Howell and collaborators will select asteroids and obtain radar data, while Dr Rafael Muller and Dr Larry Marshall will obtain their light-curves.

The Gettysburg Telescope is available at short notice. Both Dr. Marshall and Dr Muller have access to the NURO telescope ( property of Lowell Observatory. The photometric sky at 7200 feet above sea level at Anderson Mesa allows for very precise light curves, with broadband color photometry using BVRI filters. A single evening of continuous monitoring can often yield useful results, while several nights usually suffice for a definitive light curve. Both optical observers have access to 12 nights of observing time at NURO per year. Software for data reduction, such as MIRA, is readily available and easy to use. There are literally tens of thousands of target objects bright enough for observation with our telescopes.

This should be a very fruitful way to obtain observations, even at short notice, for near-Earth asteroids that are only bright for a very short time as they pass close to the Earth. We will also try to obtain color photometry as possible to combine compositional information with the radar properties: the composition is also critical when considering possible mitigation strategies for potential Earth impactors.

[Asteroidal light-curve determination is an ideal student project, as it is straight-forward, while letting the student carry out all the steps in making a practical astronomical observation. Photometry projects may require only a few nights of observing on a small-to-moderate aperture telescope, and the data analysis is fairly direct and easy to learn. ]


Collaborators: All UPR faculty, including the educational coordinator, Dr José Alonso (UPR Cayey Campus) and the evaluator, Dr. Myrna Ayala (UPR at Humacao Campus), Dr. Murray Lewis ( NAIC)

We are committed to the mentoring of undergraduate students in research activities as far as possible. Our previous experience at the departmental level demonstrates that undergraduate research activity stimulates the intellect, enhances creativity, and nurtures the development of new skills among students. Those who have the opportunity to work in a research environment are properly socialized and equipped with valuable information to select graduate school and research topics. For example, in the last 5 years approximately 40% of the students in the Physics and Electronics Department of the Humacao Campus have been involved in undergraduate research experiences. Of those, two per year on average are following the graduate path at Universities in the U.S; one each of the graduating classes of 2006 and 2007 are following graduate programs in astronomy. This proposal will allow us to do a better job mentoring students interested in astronomy & astrophysics, and thus increase the number of minority students that proceed to seek advanced degrees in the field


In the Student and Faculty Exchange program, undergraduate students and faculty spend a summer month doing research at NAIC, at a university in the US, and/or doing observing runs at telescopes in the US. Students and faculty will participate as teams. Teams consist of at least a student and his/her faculty mentor. The participation of students and mentors together ensures the continuity of the efforts during the academic year. During the exchange period the participants will have access to instrumentation and library resources that are not available in their home institutions, and the opportunity to learn new techniques and to exchange information with collaborators. Faculty exchange will also be aimed at bringing more experienced personnel from other institutions to UPR and providing minority students and women students the opportunity to work in a minority institution that has been successful in graduating women minority students with science degrees.

Workshops focused on our collective research agenda will be organized yearly, aiming to discuss and evaluate this proposed multi-campus program and to keep the participants in touch with the most updated, innovative and relevant topics.

    1. Seminars and Video conferencies

In order to keep the groups integrated and to disseminate the most relevant results obtained from research topics, seminars and videoconferences will be held monthly. All faculty participants involved in research and education activities will participate in this activity.

    1. Hands on workshops & open houses for high school teachers and students

Presentations on the research subjects of astronomy and astrophysics will be given during our annual hands-on workshops and open houses for high school teachers and students. Workshops for high school teachers will be conducted at the facilities at NAIC putting emphasis on research subjects. When the phase reference antenna becomes operational, hands-on workshops will be conducted for high school teachers and students using the phase reference antenna as a tool for learning data acquisition and analysis in radio astronomy

A website with our activities and main results will be prepared with the aim of attracting motivated high school students.


UPRPREAA will be administered from the Humacao Campus of the University of Puerto Rico, an undergraduate institution serving close to 4500 students, of whom 99% are Hispanic. Humacao is one of 11 campuses of the University of Puerto Rico system. The Chancellor of the Humacao Campus of the UPR, Dr. Hilda Colón-Plumey will be the institutional authority. The PI of UPRPREAA will be Dr. Rafael Muller, permanent faculty member of the Department of Physics and Electronics of the Humacao Campus, with close to 10 years experience administering Title II funds for in-service teacher training. The PI in collaboration with the staff and faculty will be responsible for the day-to-day implementation and operation of the program. The CO-PI will be Dr Murray Lewis from NAIC (Arecibo).

Two other campuses of the University of Puerto Rico are represented in UPRPREAA: Dr Mayra Lebrón, from Rio Piedras and Dr. José Alonso, our educational coordinator, from Cayey. The educational Coordinator will report directly to the PI. Dr Myrna Ayala, from the education department at Humacao (UPR) and with extensive experience evaluating science activities and projects, will be in charge of assessment and evaluation, and will respond directly to the PI. The evaluation plan is presented on page 14 .

The research and education groups will be composed of (Radioastronomy) Chris Salter, Tapasi Ghosh, JC Cersosimo, Mayra Lebrón and Murray Lewis; (Optical/Radar) Rafael Muller, Lawrence Marshall and Ellen Howell; (Astrophysics) Ernesto Esteban


The Advisory Committee will play an important role in our Collaboration as a sounding board on the programs and procedures being adopted. The members of the Committee are three distinguished astronomers from universities in the USA (CVs have been included with proposal):

    • Kathy Eastwood (University of Northern Arizona)

    • Michael M. Davis ( former director, Arecibo, now retired)

    • Rafael Arce ( Yale University)

They will participate in the annual meetings, both to review and present a report to the PI on their perception of the program status as well as to offer suggestions for improvements. The specific responsibilities of the Advisory Committee are: to play a leadership role and participate in strategic planning related to the ongoing development and maintenance of the UPRPREAA, to assist UPRPREAA faculty in maintaining awareness of current trends in research and education; to provide advice to faculty on program design, content, and resources.

All the program participants will meet once a year in UPR-Humacao or at the Arecibo Visitors Center during our annual meetings. In these two-day meetings, the PI will present a progress report on the program, while all the student and faculty collaborators will present the results of their research and education efforts. They will have time to exchange ideas and to evaluate and discuss the future direction of the effort. At the end of the annual meeting the Advisory Committee will write a report with their recommendations

Funds are requested to hire an Administrative Coordinator. The Administrative Coordinator will be responsible for the administrative aspects of the program in collaboration with the PI and the Educational and Outreach Coordinator.

8.0 Assessment and Evaluation plan

The program will allow students and faculty to increase their knowledge and skills by actively undertaking research projects in astronomy and astrophysics, and by improving the mentoring of undergraduates interested in astronomy. Continuous formative evaluation will be completed throughout the program, especially during the first two years to find out if: 1) education activities were developed and carried out as planned, 2) audiences were from various target groups (minority, women, undergraduates and faculty), 3) students had the opportunity to work in a team-based approach in research activities, 4) program content includes research experiences and meets the stated objectives, and 5) the program is on course to becoming a successful model for other programs in the United States. 

Objectives will be measured using data on advancing undergraduates, students accepted at universities in the mainland, number of refereed papers, interview of main staff, copies of brochures and other handout materials, impact of web site, questionnaires by participants, discussion of focus groups. Summative evaluations will be carried out at the end of each year by focus groups of faculty and students, surveying students and faculty participating in the program and analyzing copy of publications (web page, brochures, etc.).This information will also be furnished to the Steering Committee for their appraisal and evaluation at the annual meeting. 

The educational activities will be assessed to ensure that they are effective and that they are consonant with the UPRPREAA objectives. It is very important to evaluate the outreach activities to ensure that they target the correct population and accomplish their objectives. We should follow the evaluation plan to ensure that the UPRPREAA is a successful model and that it strengthens the infrastructure for research and education in astronomy at the University of Puerto Rico.

9.0 Dissemination

In order to promote an extensive dissemination of our combined research-curriculum development, we will offer workshops, open houses, and laboratory demonstrations for faculty and students of other universities, schools and industry. The participants will visit our facilities or we will communicate with them using the available videoconferencing facilities. The information developed as a result of this program, including that in CD ROM format, will be offered to the other units of the UPR system and to any other institution interested in our results. Publications, presentations by faculty and students, and the web page will make our results available to the scientific and educational communities.  

10.0 IMPAct of the Proposed Project

The impact of this project will be substantial. The UPR-HUMACAO is the largest producer of undergraduate physics/chemistry and computational mathematics majors on the island. Continuity from the B.S. level to graduate school will be sustained. Undergraduates at UPR-HUMACAO and other participating institutions will be given a unique opportunity to engage in undergraduate research and to interact with mainland students (undergraduate and graduate) at Arecibo with the unavoidable consequence of being motivated to pursue graduate school. The faculty sense of self worth is greatly enhanced by participating as co-investigators with leaders in their fields.

New research capabilities will be made available, which has the prospect of attracting even more faculty into research, thereby increasing the pool of active scientists on the island. By involving faculty from other units of UPR (UPR_Rio Piedras and UPR-Cayey) the extent of the collaboration will be enhanced by at least 50%, and the number of students that participate in this project will increase. This will serve two purposes: it will help establish a credible research environment in the south-east part of the island, and it will serve as a motivating factor in inviting local high school students to campus for the purpose of demonstrating to them the range and variety of research projects undertaken by undergraduates, some of whom the high school students may even recognize.


The phase reference antenna is proposed here as a PAARE project. Its intended use in augmenting VLBI observations generates precise locations for radio sources. Thus future work may measure the precession (and hence the distances) of pulsars over a wide swath of our Galaxy. So one future use we forsee is in tying together the optical, radio, and Solar System fundamental frames of reference. In particular, accurate pulsar timing observations of milli-second pulsars produce positions in the Solar System coordinate frame, while VLBI provides their astrometric radio positions with respect to other radio sources. However a small number of pulsars also have optical counterparts, which would enable all three systems to be integrated.

The inverse of accurate position measurements of cosmic sources is accurate knowledge of one’s position on the Earth. Thus the HAAT antenna also has utility in such non-astronomical contexts as geodesic observations of continental plate drift, and the local definition of the vertical. The potential implementation of a HAAT antenna has generated interest in the geodesic community, which in turn may lead to a fresh community of users and perhaps to a future PAARE-type proposal from that community. We have some hopes that this community may help to instrument the antenna.

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