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Paper: A Distributed, Real-Time Data Monitoring System as Ground Support Equipment for Balloon-Borne Astronomy Experiments
Volume: 434, Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems XIX
Page: 229
Authors: Chen, C. M. H.; Baumgartner, W. H.; Cook, W. R.; Davis, A. J.; Harrison, F. A.
Abstract: We present a real-time data-monitoring software suite that we developed for the High Energy Focusing Telescope (HEFT). HEFT was one of the first projects to develop focusing mirrors and detectors for hard X-ray astronomy. We deployed these new technologies on the scientific ballooning platform. During a balloon flight, this so-called ‘ground support equipment’ (GSE) allows us to monitor the physical condition of the payload, and to inspect preliminary science data in real time, through displays of tables of frequently updated quantities and their averages, time-series plots, histograms, spectra, and images. Unique from previous implementations of GSE s for other experiments, our system is a server-client network that utilises TCP/IP unicast and UDP multicast to enable multiple, concurrent and independent display clients. Most of the code is in Java, and thus platform-independent. We verified that the software suite works on Linux, Mac OS/X and Windows XP, deployed it in two flight campaigns for use during on-site calibration, pre-launch practice drills, and an observation flight of 24 hours. This system, and individual ideas of its implementation, can be adapted for use in future experiments requiring sophisticated real-time monitoring and data display.
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