I’m actually getting somewhere with the project

An update on the FYP.

For the last few days, I was trying to get the software compiled and installed, and having a massive bunch of problems with that; the main one was that it rejected any version of the Perl programming language apart from 5.00(1-9), and I had 5.12.4 at the time. A quick email to the helpdesk at NASA alerting them to this problem yielded the potential reason I was having such a hard time: the version of Ubuntu I’m using (11.10) isn’t supported yet, so they recommended a pre-compiled binary instead.

Once I got that downloaded, it installed quite easily in a matter of about an hour instead of three fruitless days. The next problem was that ds9, the programme I’m using to display the images, wouldn’t install because of an error:
error while loading shared libraries: libXss.so.1: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

The best way to solve a problem in Linux is to type it into a web search engine (I don’t use Google, but I can’t think of a better word), and the chances are that somebody will have found an answer already. In my case, all I needed was install the libXss package, which took all of five minutes. So far, I’ve been looking at images of the Crab nebula, and these also show the Geminga neutron star – they’re close enough to each other that if you create a data query for within 15° of the target, they overlap.

Once I have the data downloaded, I use NASA’s gtselect programme to select my data, choosing the coordinates to centre upon, the energy and time ranges, an angle around the object, and the zenith angle (how high it is in the sky).
The next step is to use gtmktime to account for the South Atlantic Anomaly, which is a region over the south Atlantic where the Earth’s van Allen belts come closest to the Earth’s surface, exposing satellites to higher than usual levels of radiation and possibly causing interference that I don’t need.
Finally, I use gtbin to create the maps, selecting the type of map, the size of the axes in pixels, the image scale (in pixels/degree), the rotation angle (usually 0°), and the projection method (I just take the default one, because I don’t know what the others do).
After this, I display them using ds9 (available from Harvard). I haven’t got the deconvolution software installed yet, but I’m getting use to creating and viewing the maps, which is quite relieving after getting stuck for three days in a row on the same problem!


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About Philip

I'm a physics graduate, sci-fi writer, budding game designer, and amateur human.

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