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Hams can help NASA

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by G4TUT, Jan 24, 2009.

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  1. G4TUT

    G4TUT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hams can help NASA

    Chris St. Cyr of the Goddard Space Flight Center says that experienced ham radio operators can participate in the historic STEREO mission to see the far side of the sun by helping NASA capture STEREO's images.

    The following is from the press release - NASA Sees the 'Dark Side' of the Sun - at

    St. Cyr notes that experienced ham radio operators can participate in this historic mission by helping NASA capture STEREO's images.

    The busy Deep Space Network downloads data from STEREO only three hours a day. That's plenty of time to capture all of the previous day's data, but NASA would like to monitor the transmissions around the clock.

    "So we're putting together a 'mini-Deep Space Network' to stay in constant contact with STEREO," says Bill Thompson, director of the STEREO Science Center at Goddard.

    The two spacecraft beam their data back to Earth via an X-band radio beacon. Anyone with a 10-meter dish antenna and a suitable receiver can pick up the signals. The data rate is low, 500 bits per second, and it takes 3 to 5 minutes to download a complete image.

    So far, the mini-Network includes stations in the United Kingdom, France and Japan—and Thompson is looking for more:

    "NASA encourages people with X-band antennas to contact the STEREO team. We would gladly work with them and figure out how they can join our network."

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  2. NA0AA

    NA0AA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hm, a 35' dish in the back yard...who do I know who has one of those....nope. Not a one. Darn the luck. That would be pretty interesting I'll bet.
  3. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    At Gilmore tracking station, just the other side of Fairbanks, they have two 30 meter dishes. One is part of the VLBI network.

    Actually, synthetic aperture techniques can work with much SMALLER the point where with the right software, standard TV satellite dishes can be used. I'm not sure if STEREO is using synthetic aperture techniques or not. Well worth looking into.

  4. WW7HN

    WW7HN Ham Member QRZ Page

    KG6WOU. . . . I know where there is one. . . . :D
  5. GI7OMY

    GI7OMY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Personally I took that as a typo - '10 metre' when it should have been '10 GHz' :D
  6. AA4MI

    AA4MI Ham Member QRZ Page

    The X band is part of the microwave region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Its frequency range is from 7 to 12.5 GHz. The 10.7-12.5 GHz portion overlaps the Ku band.

    73, Carl, AA4MI
  7. KC2UGV

    KC2UGV Ham Member QRZ Page

    I wonder if I can get permission to use the 6-7 35' dishes that belonged to the old Nike program. There are about 4 abandoned sites within 10 miles of me, each with 6-7 dishes a piece.
  8. W1QO

    W1QO Ham Member QRZ Page

    Are they implying that the transmitter output and path loss would require a 10m diameter dish to get high enough S/N ratio?

    Let me think this through...

    If you look at the position of these vehicles...

    Vehicle A is about 67 million miles away.
    Vehicle B is about 74 million miles away.

    The total power consumption of each vehicle is 475 watts, so i'd guess the transmitter is a few watts- assuming 30dB gain parabolic dish.

    Using the max theoretical gain for a parabolic dish at 10m diameter in 3cm band(=9.87*D² /λ²)~110,000 times, or roughly 50dB and free space attenuation of 274dB for the path loss over 74M miles...
    Tx power of 5W 37dBm
    30dB Gain of TX dish 67dBm
    274dB path loss -207dBm
    50dB 10m dish gain -157dbm
    10dB component losses -167dBm

    Man. Even with a 10m dish, you'll have a signal strength of -167dBm. And that's if you track this thing across the sky perfectly, and without distorting the dish. You'd need to keep your receiver in liquid nitrogen to keep the noise floor down.

    Am I missing something here? Or can you count on your fingers and toes the number of hams around the world equipped to do this.
  9. WJ6R

    WJ6R Ham Member QRZ Page

    if it's 10 GHZ, then any direcTV or Dish network dish and LNB might work. We just need a 10 GHZ receiver.

    but then again, yeah, the noise floor would be HIGH
  10. KD5ZEW

    KD5ZEW Ham Member QRZ Page

    how wide of a beam width would you have with a 10 Ghz 10 meter dish @ 74,000,000 miles? That sat signal must be a Very small drop on a VERY large bucket.
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