USNO A1.0 November 1996 USNO SA1.0 December 1996 The following text is copied from the UJ1.0 CD-ROM and gives an overview of the PMM and its programs. In an attempt to satisfy the serious user of this catalog, the source code for the PMM is found in the sg1.tar file somewhere in this CD-ROM set. This file contains the source code for all pieces of the executable image as well as the key data files used to calibrate various pieces of the PMM. References to code in this section point to files in sg1.tar. Dave Monet is firstname.lastname@example.org The Precision Measuring Machine (PMM) was designed to digitize and reduce large quantities of photographic data. It differs from previous designs in the manner by which the plates are digitized and in that it reduces the pixel data to produce a catalog in real time. This section gives an introduction to the design, hardware, and software of the PMM. For those wishing to pursue issues in greater detail, the software used to control the PMM may be found in the directory exec/c24, and all software used to acquire and process the image data is found in the other directories under exec/ (processing begins with exec/misc/f_parse). High-speed photographic plate digitization has been accomplished using three different approaches. Many machines (APS, APM, PDS, etc.) have a single illumination beam and a single channel detector. This approach can offer extremely accurate microdensitometry at slow scanning speeds (PDS) and has been used by intermediate-speed machines (APS, APM, etc.) that have produced many useful scientific results. The second approach is to use a 1-dimensional array sensor, such as the SuperCOSMOS design. These offer much higher scanning rates but suffer from more scattered light than true microphotometers. The third approach (PMM) is to use a 2-dimensional array sensor, such as a CCD. This offers yet higher throughput at the expense of more scattered light. The 1-D and 2-D designs are new enough that detailed comparisons with single pixel designs have yet to be done. Of the three designs, only the 2-dimensional array design separates image acquisition from mechanical motion. In this approach, the platen is stepped and stopped, its position is accurately measured, and then a CCD camera takes a picture of a region of the photographic material. In this manner, the transmitted light (plates and films) or reflected light (prints) is digitized and sent to a computer for processing and analysis. The mechanical system is not required to move the platen in a precise direction or speed while image data are being taken. Therefore, the mechanical system is much easier to build and keep operational, and platen sizes can be much larger (a feature needed to minimize the thermal and mechanical impact of replacing the photographic materials). A. Hardware The PMM design is conceptually simple. The mechanical system executes a step and stop cycle, and then reports its position to the host computer. A CCD camera takes an exposure of the "footprint" in its field of view, and the signal is then read, digitized, and passed to the host computer. Once the image is in the computer, the mechanical motion may be started and image processing and mechanical motion can occur simultaneously. In practice, the PMM design is a bit more complicated because it has two parallel channels for yet higher throughput. The various subsystems are the following. a) The mechanical system was manufactured by the Anorad Corporation of Hauppauge NY to specifications drawn up by USNOFS astronomers and their consultant William van Altena. Its features include the following: i) 30x40-inch useful measuring area. ii) granite components for stability. iii) air bearings for removal of friction. iv) XY stage position sensed by laser interferometers. v) Z and A platforms for above/below stage instruments. vi) ball screw motion in X at 4 inch/second maximum speed. vii) brushless DC motors in Y at 2 inch/second maximum speed. viii) computer control of all motions. ix) two laser micrometers mounted on the Z stage to measure distance to photographic materials. x) two CCD cameras (discussed below). In addition, it has a single channel microphotometer system built by Perkin Elmer, but that system is not used for POSS plates. It is controlled by a dedicated PC that communicates to the outside world by an RS-232 interface. The PMM is housed in a Class 100,000 (nominal) clean room and the thermal control is a nominal plus or minus one degree Fahrenheit. Actual performance is much better over the 80 minutes needed to scan a pair of plates. The temperature is usually stable to +/-0.2 degrees and short term tests show a repeatability of 0.2 microns over areas the size of POSS plates. Thermal information is recorded during the scan and is part of the archive. b) The images are acquired and digitized by two CCD cameras made by the Kodak Remote Sensing Division (formerly Videk). Each has a format of 1394x1037 and a useful area of 1312x1033 pixels. The pixels are squares of 6.8 microns on a side, have no dead space between pixels (100% filling factor), and there are no bad pixels in the array (Class 0). A flash analog to digital converter is part of the camera, and the image is read and digitized with 8-bit resolution at a rate of 100 nanoseconds per pixel. Printing-Nikkor lenses of 95 millimeter focal length are used to focus the sensor on the photographic plate with a magnification of 2:1. The resolution of these lenses exceeds 250 lines per millimeter and they have essentially zero geometric and chromatic distortion when used at 2:1. The illuminator consists of a photometrically stabilized light source, a circular neutral density filter to compensate for the diffuse density of the plate, a fiber bundle, and a Kuhler illuminator to minimize the diffuse component of illumination. Each camera's light path is separate except for the single light source. c) Each camera has its own dedicated computer and related peripherals. The digital output of the camera is fed to a 100 megabit per second optical fiber for transmission to the computer room where a matching receiver converts it back into an 8-bit wide, 10 megabyte per second parallel digital signal. This signal is interfaced to a Silicon Graphics 4D/440S computer using an Ironics 3272 Data Transporter attached to the VME bus. This system supports the synchronous transfer of 1.4 megabytes in 0.14 seconds with an undetectably small error rate. The 4D/440S supports DMA from the VME bus into its main memory without an additional buffer. Once in the computer, the PMM software (discussed below) does whatever is appropriate, and, if the user desires, the pixel data can be transmitted across a fiber optically linked SCSI bus to disk or tape drives located in the PMM room. This is particularly convenient for the operator. d) A DEC MicroVAX-II computer acts as system synchronizer, and does little more than coordinate all steps in the motion and processing. This operation is not as trivial as it sounds. e) The user interacts with the PMM using any X-window terminal by logging into the MicroVAX and starting the control program. The control program logs into the Anorad PC and each of the processing computers across RS-232 (it is too old to have X). These computers open X-windows on the users terminal, and all interaction with them (including image display) avoids the MicroVAX. A simple interpretive language was written for the MicroVAX, and plates are measured by executing sequences of commands. Sequences may be found in exec/c24/seqNNN.pmm. The sequence for measuring 4 UJ plates is seq485.pmm. B. Plate Measuring Sequence The sequence for measuring plates is designed to minimize human intervention. Each of the two platens holds four POSS plates. While one is being measured, the other is loaded so that the plates can come to thermal equilibrium. The measurement sequence consists of the following phases. a) The camera is positioned over the middle of the plate and the neutral density filter is set to maximum (D=3.0). A sequence of fixed length exposures is made as the density is reduced, and the optimum value for the exposure is found. Due to limitations of the camera interface, the exposure time has a granularity of one millisecond and must be in the range of 2 to 127 milliseconds. Once the optimum neutral density is found, it is kept at that value for the entire plate. Changes in diffuse density are followed by changing the exposure time. b) The Z-stage is fixed at a nominal value, and the plate pair (1/2 or 3/4) is scanned to obtain the distance between the Z laser micrometers and the surface of the plate. The XY stage is positioned at a Y value that will later be used for the digitization footprints, and then driven at high speed in X. As the stage moves, the micrometer and the Anorad PC are sampled to determine the Z distance as a function of X position. This procedure is repeated for the sequence of Y positions, and the 2-dimensional map of Z distance is obtained. c) The camera is positioned over the middle of the plate, and a sequence of exposures is taken at different values of the Z coordinate. For each exposure, a measure of the sky granularity is computed, and interpolation is used to find the Z coordinate that maximizes the granularity. This establishes the "best" focus in an impersonal manner, and it appears to be stable to plus or minus 50 microns in Z. d) A sequence of frames are taken of the central area of the plate with increments of 1.0 millimeter between each, and the standard star finding and centering algorithm is run on each frame. After all frames have been taken, the nominal value of the plate scale is used to identify unique stars seen on each of several frame. Once the set of measures is isolated, software computes a revised estimate of the plate scale. This revised estimate can be considered the difference between the layer of the emulsion that reflected the laser micrometer beam of the reference plate and of the current plate. When the plate is scanned, the Z stage is driven to the position appropriate for each footprint, which is the sum of the "best focus" plus the difference between the current location and the central location as determined by the laser micrometers. After the positions have been measured, a linear expansion is applied to the pixel coordinates for each star to remove the difference in the (observed-nominal) plate scale. At first glance, this algorithm seems quite complicated, but determination of the plate scale is critical to the astrometric integrity of the PMM. To measure to 0.1 arcsecond, the scale must be known to 0.008%. The following factors contribute to uncertainties in the plate scale. a) No technology better than a laser micrometer was found to measure the distance between the Z stage and the plate. Unfortunately, the laser is somewhat sensitive to the reflectance of the surface, and the range of diffuse densities encountered during the scanning of the UJ plate of about 0.1 to 2.5 causes an uncertainty of where the micrometer is measuring. The only competing technology, touch probes, was considered too risky for use with original POSS-I and -II plates. b) The POSS plates are not flat, and no reasonable plate hold-down mechanism was proposed. This problem is a minor annoyance for UJ and POSS-II plate because the typical +/- 200 microns could be removed by software. Unfortunately, the +/-1 or millimeter seen on the POSS-I plates causes the images to be out of focus, and a surface following algorithm is required. Unfortunately, the elaborate focus and scale determination routines developed to measure POSS-I and POSS-II plates were unreliable for measuring the UJ plates. Many UJ plates had diffuse densities so low that the sky and the noise in the sky were extremely difficult to measure. To the human observers, these plates seem as clear as window glass. Since the UJ exposures were only 3 minutes, many plates had so few stars in a single footprint that the scale determination routine got lost. In either case, the error induced by a lost algorithm was much larger than just measuring the focus on a good plate and using that value for the UJ plate. This was done, so the list in the preceding paragraph must be extended. c) The difference in focus between the current plate and that used to determine the CCD camera scale is not known. Note that the PMM should follow the current plate properly since that measurement is only the difference between the local and central value determined by the laser micrometer. What is not (or only poorly) known is the offset at the central location. C. Image Analysis Algorithms The mechanical and camera systems serve only one purpose: to deliver image data to the processing computers. The major precept of the PMM design is to do all image processing and analysis in real time. It was true when the PMM was designed, and is still true, that it takes much longer to read or write an image to storage devices (particularly those for archival storage) than it does to extract the desired information. Indeed, the original PMM design had no mechanism for saving the pixels. A substantial amount of thought and work has gone into the design of the image processing algorithms. This section gives an overview of the code, and the serious reader is encouraged to read the source code (located in exec/ and its subdirectories). When the MicroVAX notifies the computer that the mechanical motion has been completed, the computer commands one or more exposures to be taken. The code is written to take 1, 2, 3, 4, or 8 exposures depending on the value of GRABNORM. The routine exec/misc/f_autoexp is used most often because it takes the exposures, evaluates the sky background, and will re-take an exposure with a modified exposure time if certain limits are exceeded. Since the background is variable, this type of autoexposure routine is necessary. Note that it does not vary the setting of the neutral density filter used to illuminate the plate, so it has a limited range over which it can modify the exposure. Another problem related to taking an exposure is the presence of holes, tears, and the area around the sensitometer spots. Typically, the POSS plate sky background has a diffuse density larger than two, but where the emulsion is absent or hidden from the sky, the density can be very close to zero. These regions cause gross saturation of the CCD camera, and its behavior becomes extremely non-linear, even to the point of having decreasing signal level with increased exposure. To avoid this, the routine exec/misc/f_toasted takes a very short exposure to test for this condition before the normal exposure sequence is started. Flat field processing is done in the traditional manner, using bias and flat frames taken under controlled circumstances. The CCD cameras are quite linear and uniform, and the flat field processing does little more than take out the non-uniformities in the illuminator. Pixel data are converted from unsigned bytes into floating point numbers during the flat field processing, and all steps in the image analysis and reduction software are applicable to non-photographic data. The image processing is divided into a hierarchy based on accuracy, and there are three levels. The first, called the blob finder, is charged with finding areas that need further processing, and doing this with a relatively coarse accuracy of +/-1 pixel. The second is invoked to refine this guess to an accuracy of +/- 0.2 pixel and to provide improved estimators for the object's size and brightness. The third step is non-linear least squares processing, which produces the accurate estimators for image position, and moment and other image parameters. Each is discussed in greater detail in the following paragraphs. a) Blob finding: Many different algorithms have been proposed to find blobs in an image. (I prefer to use "blob" instead of "star" since we do not know in advance what sort of an object we have found.) The PMM algorithm was designed for very high speed. It is based on the concept that finding an image requires neither the spatial resolution nor the intensity resolution required to measure accurate image parameters. The first step of the blob finder is to block average the input image by a size PARMAGNIFY which can take on values of 1, 2, or 4, but all experience indicates that 4 is acceptable for PMM processing of POSS plates. (The driver for this processing is in exec/pfa124subs/bmark2_N.f where N takes on the values of 1, 2, or 4.) The larger the value of PARMAGNIFY, the faster the blob finder will operate. With PARMAGNIFY determined, the block average TINY image is computed and then subjected to a median filter to produce the SKY image of similar size. The histogram processing of the sky image determines the dispersion of the sky, a scaler that will be applied to the whole image. Then, the sky image and the sky dispersion are used to generate the DN1P image, an image whose pixel values are 1 if the TINY image was greater or equal to the SKY pixel plus PARSIGMA times the sky dispersion, or 0 if not. If the DN1P pixel is set to 1, the corresponding SKY pixel is set to zero indicating that it should not be used to compute local sky values. Another picture of reduced size is computed as well. The DN2P pixel is set to 1 if the TINY pixel is greater or equal to PARSAT, a number that represents the level at which an image is considered to be saturated. In practice, the number is about 230 instead of the maximum possible value of 255 that comes from the camera A/D converter. The logic behind the TINY, SKY, DN1P, and DN2P is the following. Most computers take many cycles to compute an IF statement, and these tend to negate look-ahead logic needed to make software execute quickly. By making images whose values are 0 or 1, additions and multiplications can replace many IF statements, and thereby increase the speed of the code. Our experience is that automatic blob finding is very expensive (slow) because of the complexity of the algorithm, and our efforts to run it in parallel mode were unsuccessful. Hence, optimization was needed in this part of the code to keep its bandwidth high. Given TINY, SKY, DN1P, and DN2P, blob finding can begin. The algorithm is based on the concept that we wish to find isolated, mostly circular objects. The algorithm considers a circular aperture and computes the area and perimeter based on the pixel values in either the DN1P or DN2P image. The area is the number of pixels that meet or exceed the detection criterion inside of the aperture, and the perimeter is the number of such pixels that cross from inside the aperture to outside the aperture. A detection is triggered when the area has a non-zero value and the perimeter is zero. This means that a blob has been isolated. Once a blob has been detected, its location and coarse magnitude are tallied and the pixels in DN1P or DN2P are set to zero so that it will not be detected again. This algorithm can be expedited in a variety of ways. First, the central pixel is tested to see if it is one. If not, the aperture is moved to the next pixel. This test corresponds to the assertion that the night sky is dark, and that a substantial number of pixels will be fail the detection threshold test. Next, explicit logic tests for small blobs. The logic contained in exec/blob/find124_N tests for all radius one and two pixel events, and special cases of 4 pixel events. The routine exec/blob/find3_N tests for all possible 3 pixel events. These cases are worth the effort because the apparent stellar luminosity function tells us that the vast majority of stars in the catalog will be faint (small), and that the processing for small blobs needs to be optimized. The processing is completed by examining the DN1P or DN2P image with progressively larger apertures, until all blobs are found or until an unreasonably large aperture is needed, which is an indicator either that a very bright object is in the field or there is something wrong with the image. In all cases, blob finding has been completed. As the blobs are detected, the routine exec/blob/plproc_N attempts to divide the blob into sub-blobs if required. This is not a true deconvolution because we have transmission and not intensity. This routine is intended to separate almost distinct blobs found in the outskirts of other blobs, and does not do a good job splitting close double stars. For the parameters used in UJ1.0, the splitter is far too aggressive and tends to break up well resolved objects into a series of distinct blobs. This is an area for algorithm development before beginning the scans of the deep Survey plates. Once the list of blobs has been assembled, the TINY, SKY, DN1P, and DN2P are no longer used. All further processing refers to the full resolution DATA image. In addition, the code shifts from scaler to parallel operation because it can consider each blob as a separate entity. Silicon Graphics implements parallel processing with the DOACROSS compiler directive for the pfa (Power FORTRAN Accelerator) compiler. Its function is to assign the next step of the DO statement to the next available CPU. This algorithm is quite effective for processing stars because it means that a big, complicated star will occupy one CPU for a while, but the other CPUs can continue processing other stars. Efficiencies between 3.5 and 3.8 were seen on the 4 CPU 4D/440S computer. b,c) Coarse and fine analysis are carried out sequentially by exec/fsubs/multiproc. The first step in done by exec/fsubs/proccenscan which examines the blob along 8 rays and determines the size and center of the blob. Then, the blob is fit by a circularly symmetric function by the routine exec/fsubs/marg and then various other image description parameters (moments, gradient, lumpy, etc.) are computed and packed into integers. The function selected was B + A/(EXP(z)+1) where z = c*((x-x0)**2 + (y-y0)**2 - r0**2). (Perhaps this is more familiar when called the Fermi-Dirac distribution function.) Because the PMM uses transmitted light, faint images look something like a Gaussian, but bright images have flat tops because they are saturated. Hence, the desired fitting function needs to transition between these two extremes in a smooth manner. A large number of numerical experiments were made, and they can be summarized by the following points. i) The production PMM code takes the sky value from the median SKY image rather than letting it be a free parameter in the fitting function. The failure mode for many normal and weird objects was found to be an unreasonably large value for the sky and a correspondingly tiny value for the amplitude. Fixing the sky forces the function to fit the image, and this is much more robust than letting the sky be a fit parameter. ii) Allowing the function to have different scale lengths in X and Y was found to be numerically unstable for too many stars. With 6 free parameters in the exponent, chi squared can be minimized by peculiar and bizarre combinations that bear little resemblance to physical objects. iii) Iteration could be terminated after 3 cycles without serious damage. If the object could be fit by the function, convergence is rapid and the parameter estimators at the end of the 3rd iteration were arbitrarily close to those obtained after many more iterations. If the object could not be fit by the function, the parameters obtained after 3 iterations were just as weird as those obtained with more iterations. iv) The best image analysis debugging tool was to subtract the fit from the DATA image and display the residuals as the PMM is scanning. This allows the human observer to get a good understanding of the types of images that are processed correctly, and where the analysis algorithm fails. This mode of operation is not possible on plate measuring machines that do not fit the pixel data. Therefore, a 5 parameter, circularly symmetric, fixed sky function was fit to all detections, and the position determined by this function is reported as the position of the object. Since most other high speed photographic plate measuring machines compute image moments, the PMM computes these as well. Our experience is that the image moments are less useful for star/galaxy separation than quantities obtained from least squares fitting, and the positions determined from the first image moments are distinctly less accurate than those determined by the fit. In addition, the image gradient, effective size, and a lumpiness parameter are also computed since these may assist in star/galaxy separation. All parameters are packed into 13 integers by the routine exec/fsubs/marg, and that code should be consulted for information concerning the proper decoding of these values. D. Catalog Products The distribution of PMM data should begin and end with the distribution of the raw catalog files. Unfortunately, cheap recording media are incompatible with the bulk. So far, over 440 CD-ROMs are needed to store these data, and the scanning is not yet done. Perhaps the digital video disk will make this problem go away. Until them, the PMM program will attempt to generate useful catalogs that contain subsets of the parent database. USNO-A: These catalogs are intended to be used for astrometric reference. They contain only the position and brightness of objects, and ignore such useful parameters as proper motion and star/galaxy classification. These are objects that measured well enough on each of two plates to pass the spatial correlation test based on a 2-arcsecond entrance aperture. V1.0 contains RA and Dec, and takes its astrometric calibration from GSC1.1 and is photometric calibration from the Tycho Input Catalog and from USNO CCD photometry. V1.1 is derived from V1.0 by using SLALIB to transform RA/Dec to Galactic L/B. The catalog is arranged in zones of B and is sorted on L. Because of intermediate storage requirements, the lookup tables between V1.1 and the GSC will not be computed. V2.0 is planned for late summer of 1997 after ESA releases the Hipparcos and Tycho catalogs. The astrometric calibration will be made with respect to Tycho, and Tycho will be used to calibrate the bright end of the photometry. Should STScI release GSCP-II (or significant chunks of it), this improved photometric calibration will be included, too. USNO-B: This catalog will extend USNO-A in several key areas. It will contain star/galaxy separation information and will contain proper motions. Note that these quantities will be computed from J/F plate data, so USNO-B will be incomplete in the north according to the production schedule of POSS-II, and proper motions will be impossible south of -42 due to missing second epoch survey data. Proper motions in the -36 and -42 zones can be computed from the Palomar Whiteoak extension. In addition, the plan is to use spatial coincidence data from the O+J and E+F survey comparisons to supplement the O+E requirement needed by USNO-A. Hence, there should be many more entries, and the limiting magnitude for objects with peculiar colors will be much deeper. UJ1.3 and beyond: The UJ plates (3-minute IIIa-J on POSS-II field centers) provide a useful set of astrometric standards at intermediate brightnesses. To the extent possible, UJ will be kept current and made available to those who request it. Pixels: The PMM pixel database is approaching 5 TBytes. Each of the PMM detections contains a pointer back to the frame and position of the pixel that triggered the detection loop. Current USNO policy is to release the pixel database as soon as there is a reasonable way to do so. Users with a particular urgency can contact Dave Monet and make a special request for access, but the logistics of searching and retrieving a specific frame from the archive on 8-mm tape will preclude all but the most important requests.