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Listening for Pioneers 6, 7 and 8 in solar orbit


    Recently it was announced in the Amsat News Service
that AMSAT-DL and then Luis, CT1DMK, had detected
Voyager 1 at a distance of approximately fourteen
billion kilometer (see ANS-120.06)

    Has anyone tried listening for Pioneers 6, 7, or 8?

    These are in solar orbit much much closer than Voyager.
Launched in the 1960's, it seems NASA doesn't spend much
time listening to them anymore due to competition for
DSN antenna time. The latest reference I can find is that
NASA/DSN made a successful contact with Pioneer 6 on
8 Dec 2000 to celebrate 35 years of continuous operating.


    With a periapsis of 0.814 AU and an apoapsis of
0.983 AU, these are practically in our backyard compared
to Voyager 1.  Other references cite the spacecraft
transmitter power at eight watts at 2292 MHz.

    Assuming that they are still transmitting, shouldn't
they be (compared to Voyager) relatively easy to hear ?
With enough antenna gain and some DSP soundcard
programming, it might even be possible to demodulate the
telemetry - one of the bit rates is only 8 bits per
second! During the 2000 session, NASA received the data
at the 16 bits per second rate. If someone has the
antenna, I would be interested in trying to write
the DSP code for demodulating the signal.

    If anyone has any further up-to-date information on
Pioneers 6, 7 or 8, their modulation, or telemetry formats
please let me know.

Douglas KA2UPW/5
"Interested amateur radio operator and soundcard DSP programmer"
Sent via amsat-bb@amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
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