Kinnelon, NJ.., March 2002 - Seven months after being shut down for upgrading, and just in time for its next tests in conjunction with the Arecibo (Puerto Rico) Radio Observatory, The SETI League's "moonbounce" beacon for radio astronomy and SETI has been returned to service, ten times more powerful than before.
The SETI League Moonbounce Beacon reflects microwave signals off the surface of the Moon. The resulting radio echoes may be received by amateur radio operators (radio "hams") on Earth, and are used for testing Earth-based radio telescopes. Operating under the callsign W2ETI at an allocated amateur radio frequency of 1296.000 MHz, the EME (for Earth-Moon-Earth) beacon enables amateur and professional radio astronomers alike to calibrate their receiving systems by providing a stable reference signal emanating constantly from a known point in the sky.
First activated in March 2001, this unique research facility, built by radio amateurs and funded in part by a NASA grant administered by the American Astronomical Society, was used by astronomers at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico to help calibrate their equipment. It operated for four and a half months at a modest 15-watt transmit level, before being temporarily shut down in late July for the addition of a 150-watt amplifier assembly. The facility has remained intermittently operational at the lower power level during the upgrade. The next Arecibo tests have been scheduled for March 21 - 22, 2002.
In its initial low-power configuration, the calibration beacon's weak echoes, reflected off the lunar surface and returned to Earth after a half-million mile journey, were detected by the 1000-foot diameter Arecibo radio telescope, by the 250-foot Sir Bernard Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank in England, and by a homebuilt 30-foot dish built by Piedmont OK radio amateur Jay Liebmann, K5JL. At its current 150-watt level, the beacon should be accessible to the more modest amateur radio telescopes being built and operated by hundreds of SETI League members in 60 countries around the world.
SETI scientists seek to determine through microwave and optical measurements whether humankind is alone in the universe. Since Congress terminated NASA's SETI funding in 1993, The SETI League and other scientific groups have been attempting to privatize the research. Experimenters interested in participating in the search for intelligent alien life, or citizens wishing to help support it, should email to join_at_setileague_dot_org, check the SETI League Web site at http://www.setileague.org/, send a fax to +1 (201) 641-1771, or contact The SETI League, Inc. membership hotline at +1 (800) TAU-SETI. Be sure to provide us with a postal address to which we will mail further information. The SETI League, Inc. is a membership-supported, non-profit [501(c)(3)], educational and scientific corporation dedicated to the electromagnetic Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.
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this page last updated 30 November 2002
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