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Images of the Week for 2006

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(Metaphorically) wearing his other hat as AMSAT Director or Education, H. Paul Shuch met in October with NASA astronaut Bill McArthur, KC5ACR (right) and Sergey Samburov, RV3DR, chief of the Cosmonaut Amateur Radio Department, RSC Energia, Korolev, Russia (left) to help plan the SuitSat 2 experiment, tentatively scheduled for hand launch from the International Space Station late next year.

N6TX photo
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30 December 2006

A sizeable group of amateur and professional radio astronomers gathered at the Heidelberg University of Applied Sciences last September, for the Fourth European Radio Astronomy Congress. A number of SETI League members were in attendance.

Yasmin Walter photo
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23 December 2006

SETI League member Lieven Philips (absent from last week's featured photo) and executive director H. Paul Shuch met for the first time at the Fourth European Radio Astronomy Congress last September, where Philips presented an excellent research paper on searching for extrasolar navigation beacons.

cellphone photo
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16 December 2006

Seven of the nine SETI League members to attend the Fourth European Radio Astronomy Congress in Heidelberg, Germany in September, pose with the Flag of Earth. From left to right: Peter Wright, Angelika Gehrke, Mike Gingell, Wolfgang Aronod, Nikolaas Heijblok, Chuck Forster, H. Paul Shuch. Not pictured: Lieven Philips, Marko Cebokli.

Yasmin Walter photo
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9 December 2006

In Maine, Project ARGUS station FN54gj achieved first light on 18 August 2006, with a 12 foot Paraclipse dish, and SSB Electronic low noise amplifier and downconverter, feeding an SDR-14 digital signal processor. Note that Rick's dish is mounted close to the ground, in bird-bath mode, which allows grass to grow through the mesh.

Rick Bishop photo
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2 December 2006

First light with a USRP! David Ocame sends this hydrogen line sweep, made in August, 2006 with his new Universal Software Radio Peripheral, at the Stony Creek Observatory, ARGUS station FN31og. He says, "the HI 'bump' is clearly visible. The present screenshot was taken with parameters set at 2MHz BW." Dave credits Marcus Leech, VE3MDL, with "a LOT of hand holding to get me to this point."
N1YVV image
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25 November 2006

Remote telemetry monitoring of the W2ETI moonbounce beacon shows what happens when we operate the transmitter key-down for sustained periods of time. In this display, we integrate for one minute intervals, with time running from right to left (most recent minute on the left of the display, with each preceeding minute for the prior hour displayed to the right of the more recent one). In this test, the transmitter was operated at full power for seven minutes. Note that cooling air temperature increases stadily, the line changing from green to yellow to red; that forward power drops from 370 down to 310 watts; and that reflected power increases as the amplifier and coax heat up. Because of these negative thermal effects, we are operating the beacon at a low duty cycle (transmitter on for only the first minute out of every five).
SETI League image
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18 November 2006

Member Peter Vekinis on site at the 12 meter diameter millimeter-wave radio telescope on Kitt Peak, near Tucson AZ USA. Peter has just completed a two-day observing run in the 170 GHz spectral region (see this Press Release). His raw data, recorded as audio .WAV files, is available for SETI League members to download and analyze, through this link.
LX1QF photo
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11 November 2006

In her talk titled "The Future of Radio Astronomy," ultraviolet astronomer and European Radio Astronomy Club member Yasmin Walter introduced attendees at last month's Fourth European Radio Astronomy Congress to such projects as the Allen Telescope Array and the planned Square Kilometer Array.
N6TX photo
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4 November 2006

At last month's Fourth European Radio Astronomy Congress in Heidelberg, Germany, Marko Cebokli, S57UUU, presented an update on his Simple DIgital Interferometer (SIDI) project. Here, his hands describe a half-meter baseline. His efforts earned Marko induction as a Fellow of the European Radio Astronomy Club.
N6TX photo
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28 October 2006

SETI League members attending last month's Fourth European Radio Astronomy Congress in Heidelberg, Germany, were treated to a lovely partial lunar eclipse.
Yasmin Walter photo
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21 October 2006

At the Bottom of the World, Robert Melville has activated his ARGUS equipment at Admussen-Scott South Pole Station. This station gives The SETI League, for the first time, full seven continent coverage. Bob does not have to worry about providing cryogenic cooling for his low noise preamplifier!

WB3EFT photo
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14 October 2006

The newest version (Release 4 BETA) of the Google Earth mapping and imaging program provides free, high-resolution satellite and aerial images of any point on Earth. Seen here is the Arecibo Radio Observatory in Puerto Rico, with the feed assembly, support towers and cables, and even the shadow of the feeds clearly visible from space.

Google Earth image
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7 October 2006

Peter Wright, DJ0BI, kicked off the Fourth European Radio Astronomy Congress at the Heidelberg University of Applied Science three weeks ago, by unfurling a Flag of Earth and unveiling a sculpture of a radio telescope.
N6TX photo
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30 September 2006

At the recent Fourth European Radio Astronomy Congress in Heidelberg, Germany, ERAC president Peter Wright, DJ0BI, inducted SETI League Executive Director Emeritus H. Paul Shuch (left) as a Fellow of the European Radio Astronomy Club. See this Press Release.

ERAC photo
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23 September 2006

Iban Cardona is getting double duty out of his 3 meter Project Argus dish in Spain, by receiving X-band interplanetary space probes. Here you can see an 8.3 GHz feedhorn and downconverter just in front of his olive-can L-band feed.

EB3FRN photo
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16 September 2006

In Michigan, member Jim Van Prooyen, N8PQK, is working on the design of a portable 21 foot diameter dish. Pictured from left to right are Tyler Van Prooyen, Jim Van Prooyen, William Van Prooyen, and Rich Nagel. The feed antenna was built by Bruce Randall, WD4JQV. This dish will be used for pulsar work in the 406 MHz band. The basic design goal is a big antenna that can be takeen to schools, parks, and star parties, to show what can be done with radio astronomy.

N8PQK photo
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9 September 2006

In his new role as Director of Education for the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT), SETI League Executive Director Emeritus H. Paul Shuch, along with his youngest son, Erin, helped to man the AMSAT booth at the National Air and Space Museum on Space Day, 5 May 2006. Just behind Erin is the flight backup unit for OSCAR-1, the world's first ham radio satellite. In additional to amateur satellites, Paul and Erin got to talk to hundreds of students about SETI.
W3PK photo
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2 September 2006

VE3MDL got an improved 1420 MHz sun sweep with his small (1.36 meter) dish in late April, 2006. Marcus writes, "Moving from fractional dB to a linear RMS millivolts measure seems to have improved things, as has moving to a different final integrating filter prior to data recording and real-time plotting. The Tant shown is based on a single calibration point using a feed-aperture-filling container of warm water at about 310K. If you backtrack the given Tant (about 405K for the solar peak), and multiply it by the solar-to-dish-beam area ratio, it gives roughly 133,000K for the observed solar blackbody temperature at 21cm. Your mileage may vary."
VE3MDL image
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26 August 2006

In Sweden, the 10 foot diameter dish at Project Argus station JO89sn has been operational all summer. (Featured Photos for recent weeks showed it under construction.) The dish feed now contains dual probes, and dual LNAs allow for both hydrogen and hydroxyl line reception. You can see a block diagram of Greg's entire station here.

Greg Gimseus photo
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19 August 2006

thumbnail More images of the 3 meter dish recently installed in Sweden, at Project ARGUS station JO89sn. Greg says of his dish mount, "I do hope it will hold. It's about 1' diameter and 2' deep. In the bottom I weldeded a large + that I drove into the ground, to stop it from turning. The ground here is an old lake bottom. Only a few inches at the top is soil, down under we have clay, tough - hard - blue clay, almost as tough as cement itself. The dish is also in the cover of the house, so I think it'll hold. The dish is so light that one person can lift it; the mount weighs a bit more."

Greg Gimseus photos
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12 August 2006

Members H. Paul Shuch and Muriel Hykes relaxing at a 4th of July party. last month at the home of SETI League president Richard Factor. Note the bottle in Muriel's left hand, the beverage of choice of serious SETI scientists.

WA2IKL photo
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5 August 2006

thumbnail In Sweden, the 6 foot diameter dish at Project Argus station JO89sn is getting a big brother. Greg writes, "It doesn't sound like such a big difference, but standing next to each other, the 10 footer is a monster. I'm getting eager for the first drift scan of Cygnus to compare results."

Greg Gimseus photos
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29 July 2006

This is the 3.5 meter dish used by F5PL for the reception of various deep-space probes. To date, Bertrand has received telemetry signals or carriers from Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Express, Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter, Venus Express, New Horizons, Deep Impact, Rosetta, SMART-1, Advanced Composition Explorer ... and The SETI League's W2ETI Moonbounce Beacon. At X-band, he alternates between Cassegrain and prime focus feeds, still looking for the optimum gain solution.
F5PL photo
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22 July 2006

German radio amateur Wolfgang Arnold, DJ3QD (at left, with director emeritus H. Paul Shuch) enjoyed a brief reign as The SETI League's newest member, when he joined at the SARA Conference in Green Bank WV last month. Just one day later, he was displaced by even newer member Bruce Lerner, KC8EUB, of Ohio.
N6TX photo
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15 July 2006

At last month's 25th Anniversary Conference of the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers, SETI League member Marcus Leech was presented with the 2006 Giordano Bruno Memorial Award, for technical contributions to SETI science. Leech's accomplishments were cited in this Press Release, posted in April in conjunction with The SETI League's annual meeting.
N6TX photo
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8 July 2006

A dozen SETI League members were among the 62 amateur radio astronomers atteding affiliated society SARA's 25th Anniversary Conference last month at NRAO Green Bank. This represents an attendance record for SARA. There are some great papers in the published Proceedings of that meeting, available from The SETI League.
Janis Osborne photo
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1 July 2006

Now available -- Proceedings, 25th Anniversary Conference of the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers. Many SETI League members contributed to this June 2006 Conference, hosted by our sister society, SARA. Published by the American Radio Relay League. ISBN 0-87259-970-1. Suggested Contribution: $20 postpaid in US, $25 postpaid elsewhere.
SETI League image
SARA 2006
 
24 June 2006

The NASA New Horizons spacecraft, now enroute to Pluto, was received at X-band by F5PL on 20 April 2006. Bertrand writes, "Very difficult to lock NH: the antenna must be aimed with a precision better than 0.1 angular. That's compulsory to do precise calibrations on the sun before tracking." He uses a 3.5 meter dish for the reception of various X-band space probes.
F5PL image
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17 June 2006

This hydrogen-line sweep of the Galactic Centre by Marcus Leach, VE3MDL, was made in early 2006. Note the double bump in amplitude, representative of two distinct relative velocities, as Hydrogen clouds drift around in the interstellar medium.
VE3MDL image
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10 June 2006

thumbnail The Project Argus station of US North Central regional coordinator Don Lallier was undergoing initial testing and setup in mid April, 2006. Note his dish in bird-bath mode, solidly mounted close to the ground to survive high winds (which are ever present in Grid Square EN02vi). Don writes, "if the weather had not been so cold this winter in Nebraska, I would have had my station up a long time ago."

N0HWJ photos
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3 June 2006

In addition to his SETI League duties, Executive Director Emeritus Dr. H. Paul Shuch has been appointed Director of Education for affiliated organization AMSAT (the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation). In that role, he will be deveoping educational programs around innovative spacecraft, such as the SuitSat communications satellite released from the International Space Station earlier this year.
NASA photo
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27 May 2006

This license plate was recently spotted gracing a minivan belonging to our Executive Director Emeritus, Dr. H. Paul Shuch (aka Dr. SETI ®). Paul uses the van to transport a portable radio telescope for school and hamfest demonstrations.
N6TX photo
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20 May 2006

Rick Bishop recovered this signal, about 4 dB out of the noise, at ARGUS station FN54gj on 5 April 2006. His station was monitoring RA 8.46, Dec +42.61, at 1418.497 MHz. Since the trace in the waterfall dispay is perfectly vertical (indicative of zero Doppler shift), the signal was most likely terrestrial interference.
Rick Bishop image
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13 May 2006

Argonaut Marcus Leach, VE3MDL, has written a pulsar detection module for use with the Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP). He writes, "Here's a screenshot of my pulsar application, looking at a simulated pulsar. My calibration source being on-off modulated by the audio port on my computer. I set the modulator to 23.25 Hz for this particular experiment. The post-detector spectrum shown is a little bit different from a normal pulsar -- the fundamental tends to be smaller than some of the harmonics, due to the short duty cycle of the pulses. My 'test' pulsar on the audio port has a 50% duty cycle."
VE3MDL image
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6 May 2006

As part of the refurbishment of The SETI League's W2ETI moonbounce beacon, President and station trustee Richard Factor has created this web-based real-time status display, which graphs changes in transmitter forward and reflected power, power amplifier cooling air temperature, and Moon elevation angle, over a one hour period.
SETI League image
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29 April 2006

After more than a year of downtime for refurbishment, The SETI League's W2ETI moonbounce beacon is now undergoing on-the-air testing with a new exciter assembly, power amplifier, control computer system, power supplies, and UPS. Reception reports have recently been sent by K2UYH and K5SO. Eight new long loop Yagi antennas are planned for the next phase of beacon upgrading, and in fact are already on order.
SETI League photo
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22 April 2006

These three paintings by Jon Lomberg, gracing a livingroom wall in the home of our Executive Director Emeritus, were key frames for the Cosmos television series. H. Paul Shuch is pleased to be collecting Jon Lomberg's astronomical artwork, and Jon say he is honored to be hanging on Paul's walls. Higher resolution views of these and other paintings may be seen on the artist's website.
N6TX photo
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15 April 2006

Another USRP observation by Marcus Leach (see last week's featured image), this time of a Doppler shifted hydrogen-line bump in the Galactic continuum. He writes, "my aperture is almost identical to the aperture of the feedhorn they used to make the very earliest HI observations, so in theory, I should be able to observe the spectral signature."
VE3MDL image
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8 April 2006

Argonaut Marcus Leach, VE3MDL, made this 1420 MHz sun sweep with a 2.5 meter diameter test dish, fed by a cylindrical waveguide horn. His receiver is the Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP) produced by Ettus Research. His open source DSP software is part of the GnuRadio project.
VE3MDL image
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1 April 2006

Designed by Matt Ettus N2MJI, and produced by his company, Ettus Research, the Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP) motherboard is a hardware standard for modular transmitters and receivers, using various daughterboards designed in conjunction with the GnuRadio project. Various SETI League members are now using USRP architecture for their Project Argus stations.
N2MJI photo
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25 March 2006

speaker F5PL caught these telemetry signals as the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter fired its thrusters to decelerate on 10 March 2006. Doppler shift reverses direction in the two images, clearly depicting the change in relative velocity as the spacecraft first entered orbit around Mars, after an eight-month journey from Earth.
Click on speaker icon to hear the received audio.
(1073 kByte WAV file; 134 seconds)
F5PL images
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18 March 2006

Argonaut Marcus Leach, VE3MDL, has been working on DSP and total power radiometry software for the Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP). His open source programs are available as part of the GnuRadio project.
VE3MDL image
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11 March 2006

This BOINC screen capture shows a strong periodic signal, most likely from a terrestrial pulsed radar source. The BOINC version of SETI@home excels at analyzing non-Gaussian signal patterns.
N6TX image
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4 March 2006

A new open-source SETI@home client, operating under the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Networked Computing (BOINC), went on line in 2005. Last December 15th, support for the classic SETI@home client was discontinued. 248 SETI League members are now contributing their idle computer cycloes to our BOINC Team.
N6TX image
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25 February 2006

Radio Eyes is a new sky viewing program from longtime amateur radio astronomer Jim Sky, KH6SKY. It helps the user visualize emissions from the sky at the radio end of the electromagnetic spectrum. Radio Eyes also contains tools for planning radio astronomical observations. Further details may be found in the Software section of The SETI League Technical Manual.
Radio Sky image
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18 February 2006

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In Spain, Iban Cardona has demonstrated the advantages of using a broadband detector for SETI spectral analysis. At left is a GPS satellite signal, viewed on his Icom receiver using its standard SSB detector. At right, the same signal is downconverted to baseband with an external product detector, tapped into the receiver's IF. The result is six times the spectral coverage.
EB3FRN images
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11 February 2006

During the week immediately following the launch of the European Space Agency's Venus Express spacecraft, F5PL observed a periodic channge in the received amplitude of the telemetry carrier. The 300 mV p-p fluctuation (representing about 0.8 dB variation) repeats 50 cycles per minute, suggesting that the spacecraft is tumbling at a rate of 50 RPM. Bertrand produced this display by monitoring the DC output of his receiver's dB meter with an 8-bit ADC Picoscope (which he describes as "the Rolls of S-meters").
F5PL image
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4 February 2006

speaker In France on 14 November 2005, F5PL received X-band telemetry signals from the recently launched ESA Venus Express spacecraft. Bertrand observed a +22 dB signal to noise ratio in a 2 kHz bandpass. He noted periodic QSB (fading) +/- 2 dB in amplitude, suggesting the spacecraft is rotating on its axis at ~50 RPM. Received frequency is Doppler shifted ~75 kHz down from its nominal value of 8419.0741. The spectrum display (bottom photo) represents a frequency span of 200 kHz/div.
(1073 kByte WAV file; 134 seconds)
F5PL images
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28 January 2006

speakerLaunched aboard a Soyuz-Fregat rocket from Baikonur, Kazakhstan on 9 November 2005, X-band telemetry from the European Space Agency's Venus Express spacecraft was received in England by Charlie Suckling G3WDG, Freddy de Guchteneire ON6UG, and James Miller G3RUH just five days later. Click the speaker icon above to hear their recovered signals.
(1073 kByte WAV file; 134 seconds)
G3WDG image
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21 January 2006

SETI League member Bob Melville, our man in Antarctica, is spending a year as a science technician at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. He may not yet have located ETI, but (with the help of a GPS receiver) he has measured the exact location of the South Pole!
WB3EFT photo
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14 January 2006

speaker By 5 November 2005, the X-band signals received from the Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter at F5PL had reached a signal to noise ratio (SNR) of +15 dB. Bertrand assumes that the spacecraft is now transmitting on its high-gain antenna. Note the extremely slow rate of change of frequency. The absolute Doppler shift is -247 kHz, with the spacecraft 36.6 million km from Earth. Click on the speaker icon at left to hear the MRO carrier. See additional Argonauts' space probe detections here.
(1003 kByte WAV file; 125 seconds)
F5PL image
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7 January 2006

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