Satellites - by Keith Stein - This article in
Popular Communications, Feb. 1999 gave a nice introduction
to monitoring satellites with low cost receivers and
scanners. It listed the satellites that can be detected
in the HF, VHF and UHF bands.
Laser Communications - not yet used for
space related communications, but the technology section
has some links to this growing hobby.
This section deals with amateur radio
enthusiasts receiving signals from sources outside of
While radio amateurs have not yet sent
an amsat to Mars or picked up signals from a NASA mission
at Jupiter, they have managed to pick up signals from
the moon missions and from a spacecraft on the way to
During the Apollo missions, amateur radio
enthusiast picked up communications transmissions from
the spacecraft in lunar orbit.
Recently, amateurs were able to receive
signals from the Lunar
Prospector spacecraft from its low orbit around
P5-A: Amateur Mars Satellite
Communications with the amateur satellite heading to Mars
will be the biggest challenge of the project. See this
entry in the Satellite Building section for information
on the probe's com system.
Note that the main goal for the big dishes is to use
them to communicate with the spacecraft that AMSAT-DL
plans to send to Mars: Go
Mars - AMSAT-DL . See also the AMSAT
P5-A entry in the Satellite Building section.
"In this, the first of the 2006 programme
of IEE Lectures in Bournemouth, Radio Ham
Paul Marsh describes how he built and used
a homemade receiver to successfully receive
signals from NASA's Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter
transmitting in X-band at a staggering range
of 45 million miles from Earth. As NASA's
New Horizons mission to Pluto gets underway,
for how long can amateurs keep pace with the
During its flight to Mars, the Mars Global Surveyor
did a test transmission of its UHF relay radio in the
amateur band at 437.1Mhz. The relay was planned for
communications between the MGS and small stations placed
on the surface of Mars by other missions.
Hams were invited to participate
in this test which occurred over three days in 1996
November 24. The spacecraft was about 6 million km from
earth and used only 1.3watts.
Amateurs around the globe could "monitor the signal
and measure its strength as a function of time (the
spacecraft rotates every 100 minutes). This information
will help JPL establish the functionality and performance
of the Mars Relay prior to its use at Mars."
of Apollo - this 3 month long celebration of the
40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission include
as one of its main events the "World Moon Bounce
On June 27th 2009 many of the world big
parabolic antennas will be “taken over” by Echoes
of Apollo volunteers and pointed at the moon. In
a “Jamboree of the Air” style amateur radio even,
kids from around the world will be talking to each
other by bouncing their transmissions of the surface
of the moon. With a 2.5 second delay, they will
have to wait 5 seconds to hear a reply. What makes
this event spectacular is the scope of the event.
Not since the Apollo missions have this many large
dishes been pointing at the moon at the same time.
This site is devoted to space generated sounds has become
quite popular. It also includes speeches and other space
related recordings. Check out the navigator,
which makes it easy and fun to hear clips of various
Dick Fergus (W9DTW) provides essentially an on line manual
for building a PC based station to pick up SFERICS - electromagnetic
pulses generated during severe electrical storms. He provides
a list and description of the hardware
requried and also he offers software
The non-profit educational Inspire ("Interactive NASA
Space Physics Ionosphere Radio Experiments") Project
brings the sounds of Very Long Frequency (VLF) radio
to thousands of students. Hear Whistlers and Tweeks
and other atmospheric sounds. These can originate from
lightning strikes but also from events in the magnetosphere
20000 miles above the earth.
"VLF radio emissions are at such low frequencies
that they can be received, amplified and turned into
sound that we can hear. Each of the natural VLF radio
emissions has a very distinctive sound. It is fun
to listen to natural VLF emissions."
Goddard Spaceflight Center leads this educational outreach
program to encourage development of natural radio reciever
stations in schools.
Radio astronomy is usually considered
a very advanced activity only carried out by research
organizations at universities and government programs
and using gigantic dishes like the one at Arecibo
in Puerto Rico.
In fact, very interesting tasks can
be undertaken by amateurs and students with modest
sized dishes and support systems.
of Amateur Radio Astronomers
This group of over 400 members was founded in 1981 and
is devoted to radio astronomy by amateurs. Even with
small dishes, amateurs can study solar activity, meteors,
and even do imaging of celestial radio sources. Also,
some members participate in SETI
SARA involves people who want
".. to learn, trade technical information and
do their own observations of the radio sky...The group
consists of optical astronomers, ham radio operators,
engineers, teachers and non-technical persons. Many
of our members are new to the field of radio astronomy
and membership is extended to all who have an interest
in radio astronomy."
Jove - Planetary Radio Astronomy for Schools
A NASA & Univ. of Florida project to involve schools
in radio astronomy. Low priced ( ~$100) antenna kits
are available for assembly and then used to gather planetary
and solar radio astronomy data. Aimed at high school
and introductory college science classes.
Devoted to amateur radio astronomy, this company offers
a wide and deep array of resources on the field, with
an orientation towards amateurs and students. Sections
Grote Reber was a radio engineer and ham radio enthuisast
who essentially created radio astronomy. He built the
first dedicated radio telescope dish in his backyard
in the 1930s.
He used the parabolic antennas in his backyward in
Wheaton, Illinois to make comprehensive radio sky maps
showing the locations radio noise sources across the
sky. Thus began a long career devoted to radio astronomy
and continue until his recent death at the age of 90.