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Interesting Item

I should be of interest to AMSAT members.


Bill Tynan, W3XO


UK amateur copies signal from Mars Express spacecraft (Dec 10, 2003) --
Using what he described as "just a quick throw-together" system, Charlie
Suckling, G3WDG, has received a signal in the UK from the European Space
Agency's Mars Express spacecraft. Now in deep space, Mars Express is
expected to reach the Red Planet on Christmas Day and deploy its Beagle 2
lander for six months of exploration. G3WDG reports he heard the Mars
Express signal on X band (8.4 GHz) December 9 using a 3-meter dish. In a
message to James Miller, G3RUH--who had provided him with advice on setting
up his equipment--Suckling said his system noise factor was about 1 dB, and
he used Miller's S-Band 2.25-turn helix scaled to 8.4 GHz as the feed
(LHCP). "Signals seemed very consistent for about two hours," he said. The
signal level was "very approximately" 0 dB S/N in 2.5 kHz. G3WDG said it
was not too hard to locate the signal--about 10 minutes of searching plus
or minus 100 kHz and tweaking his azimuth and elevation settings. In
mid-November, a team of German amateurs were able to copy the Mars Express
signal from a far more sophisticated setup in Bochum, Germany, that's
equipped with a 20 meter parabolic antenna. Reception of the Mars Express
signal provided a test run for the facility, which will serve as the ground
control station for AMSAT-DL's Phase P5-A Mars orbital mission planned for
2007. AMSAT-DL President Peter G¸lzow, DB2OS, says it was the first time
ever that a signal of an interplanetary deep-space probe was received in
Germany. "It was probably also the first time ever that such a signal was
received by Amateur Radio operators," he added. There's a complete report
on the AMSAT-DL Web site.
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