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Space Science

Ham Hears Mars Orbiter 45 Million Miles From Earth 239

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Ham Hears Mars Orbiter 45 Million Miles From Earth

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  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by ToasterofDOOM ( 878240 ) <d.murphy.davis@gmail.com> on Monday December 19, 2005 @12:03AM (#14288833)
    ...how soon can I get this sort of range/reliability for my home Wifi?
  • Nice ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 19, 2005 @12:04AM (#14288840)

    and here I can't get a decent fucking picture from DirecTV.
  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 19, 2005 @12:05AM (#14288841)
    "Can you hear me now?"
  • by nonother ( 845183 ) on Monday December 19, 2005 @12:05AM (#14288842)
    We better start encrypting our space chats or the aliens will surely hear us.
    • Re:Security risk? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by user9918277462 ( 834092 ) on Monday December 19, 2005 @12:11AM (#14288879) Journal
      All NASA communications are encrypted. One of the highest priorities during recovery of the Columbia wreckage was to find and secure the NSA "black box" that encrypted radio traffic between the shuttle and ground control.

      Can you imagine the damage some antisocial radio vandal could do to the Mars Rovers, for instance, if the command traffic was sent in the clear?

      • wtf would they need some "encrypting" black box for? If they can decode it from the ground, they already know how it was encrypted. They designed the thing, after all.
      • Re:Security risk? (Score:3, Informative)

        by mboverload ( 657893 )
        Oh, nevermind. You were refering to a civilian finding and keeping it then reverse-engineering it.

        Though your point is still mute. I doubt they use the same scheme for all their assets. That would be retarded.
      • Not quite (Score:5, Interesting)

        by slightlyspacey ( 799665 ) on Monday December 19, 2005 @01:21AM (#14289133)
        As with most things in life, the correct answer is "it depends". All NASA communcations to/from the shuttle are NOT necessarily encrypted but can be. Uplink from the ground to the shuttle always is encrypted (we don't want someone sending bogus commands). In addition, the crew has the option of disabling all commands coming from the ground. Direct downlink from the shuttle to the ground can be encrypted but that is not always done. It depends on the mission configuration. DOD-based classified missions back in the 80s always were encrypted on both the uplink and downlink.

        There are also other communications paths between the shuttle and the ground. Indirect communications, known as forward and return links via, TDRSS are always encrypted.

        • > Uplink from the ground to the shuttle always is encrypted (we don't
          > want someone sending bogus commands).

          Authentication does not require encryption. A cryptographic signature suffices.
      • Re:Security risk? (Score:5, Informative)

        by cyclone96 ( 129449 ) on Monday December 19, 2005 @01:27AM (#14289153)
        I'm sort of splitting hairs here, but only the command link is secured on most NASA satellites. The telemetry back to the ground isn't necessarily encrypted (it isn't on the shuttle and ISS), although you'd definitely need to have some pretty expensive equipment and know-how to decode the carrier into anything useful (like voice and data). Then again, it's only fun because it's hard...

        There's a few more details on how it works for ISS in a NASA training manual here [mit.edu]. (It's a 6 Mb pdf, communications is section 4).
      • I've heard Shuttle flight air-ground comms before. Didn't sound encrypted to me.
      • Re:Security risk? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mwilliamson ( 672411 )
        You'd think they'd be using some form of PKI, not simply relying on a symmetric cipher. Revoke keys...
      • would I be interested in controlling it for a little while.

        Maybe this is why they keep searching for water on Mars? Those crazy scientists and their hijinks.

      • Re:Security risk? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Detritus ( 11846 )
        All NASA communications are encrypted.

        Bullshit. You have absolutely no idea as to what you are talking about.

        Can you imagine the damage some antisocial radio vandal could do to the Mars Rovers, for instance, if the command traffic was sent in the clear?

        More bullshit. Many spacecraft command uplinks are not encrypted. You need to know a lot of things and have some very expensive hardware before you are going to be able to command a spacecraft. Just knowing the uplink frequency is a small piece of t

      • by dr_d_19 ( 206418 ) on Monday December 19, 2005 @05:19AM (#14289694)
        All NASA communications are encrypted.

        I broke that encryption years ago. According to my findings, proximity and movement correction data was sent as YARDS and not METERS.
  • Transcript (Score:4, Funny)

    by coolraul ( 936086 ) on Monday December 19, 2005 @12:06AM (#14288855)
    Orbiter: "Beep beep beep bo beep" Base station: "Da deet da da deet deet da"
    • Base Station: 01000111011011110010000001100110011101010110001101 10101100100000011110010110111101110101011100100111 0011011001010110110001100110

      Orbiter: 01000101011101110111011100100001001000000010000001 0011100110111100100000011101110110000101111001

      Base Station: 01101111011011010110011100100000011011000110111101 10110001111010

    • by dogwelder99 ( 896835 ) on Monday December 19, 2005 @12:40AM (#14289009)
      Orbiter:

      Dear Sir,

      Confidential Interplanetary Business Proposal

      Having consulted with my colleagues and based on the information gathered from the Martian Chambers Of Commerce And Industry, I have the privilege to request your assistance to transfer the sum of $47,500,000.00 (forty seven million, five hundred thousand Earth dollars) into your accounts. The above sum resulted from an over-invoiced contract, executed, commissioned and paid for about five years (5) ago by an alien contractor. This action was however intentional and since then the fund has been in a suspended account at The Central Bank Of Mars...

    • Orbiter: "Beep beep beep bo beep" Base station: "Da deet da da deet deet da"

      Sting: "De do do do, de da da da"
    • Are you sure it wasn't "Bah-weep-granna-weep-nini-bohn"?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 19, 2005 @12:07AM (#14288861)
    Jesus fucking christ! What link do they want me to click?! My slashdot honed senses are confused by the lack of more then one link in the article summary!!!

    Oh, wait, nevermind, since when did I read articles? Crisis averted! :)
  • by pawstar ( 930281 ) on Monday December 19, 2005 @12:09AM (#14288868)
    So, how long will it take for this guy to be reprimanded for space war driving of satellites ?
  • I bet he's getting high-fives and beers from all his geeky friends. ... I wish I were one of those friends. ;)
  • So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Voltageaav ( 798022 ) on Monday December 19, 2005 @12:21AM (#14288930) Homepage
    So what? This guy's basicly just taking his work home for fun. Yeah, he tinkered and built one on his own, but he should be able to if he's the NASA expert on it.
    • Are you insane? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 955301 ( 209856 ) on Monday December 19, 2005 @12:47AM (#14289030) Journal
      The guy, a human being with clothes and bad breath and pimples as a kid and all of those things that level the playing field for all of us, is communicating with something 45 million miles away!

      Even the most boring, predictable, well-funded case of this occurring should be celebrated with what is left of the adverturer in you.

      "So what". Puh! Why exactly are you at Slashdot then?

    • Re:So? (Score:5, Informative)

      by uhfsatcom ( 938169 ) on Monday December 19, 2005 @11:17AM (#14290858)
      Hi Voltageaav, you have misread the context of the article, I built the receiver and have no connection with nasa at all - it was done out of technical curiosity just to see if it was possible with simple equipment to hear anything, the answer turns out to be a "yes".

      regards
      Paul (www.uhf-satcom.com contributor)
  • Just like Apollo (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 19, 2005 @12:23AM (#14288940)
    How many of you remember the articles in QST and Ham Radio from the 1970's about the ham radio operators that received and decoded the pulse-coded modulation transmissions directly from the moon during the Apollo missions? Yeah, I think we really did go there.

    This new feat comes on the heels of the success of ham radio in Louisiana. I've been licensed since high school in the early 1970's. These new-fangled computers are nice and convenient, but nothing beats ham radio! It works where nothing else will.

    Ray
    • Wow, Apollo. I'm old enough to remember news coverage of some of the missions. Do you perhaps have any linkage to online renditions or mentions of said articles?

      On a sadder note, my Dad and I started studying for our HAM licenses way back when and as my typical luck would have it something monitarily bad happened about the time I was ready to go and that was the end of that. Then along came these blasted computers and we both forgot all about HAMery and such... I still have (and in semi-working order) the

      • Re:Just like Apollo (Score:5, Informative)

        by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <slashdot.kadin@xox[ ]et ['y.n' in gap]> on Monday December 19, 2005 @10:40AM (#14290654) Homepage Journal
        You do know that the license exam is -- for anyone with a basic understanding of electricity -- pretty simple these days. In fact it's probably somewhat easier than the one you studied for in the past, especially if you spent a lot of time practicing the Morse code. You'd just need to memorize the band plan and you'd probably be able to go down and take the test. You could do it in a weekend, quite easily.

        I'm very surprised that more geeks don't go and take the test, if you're even moderately interested in messing around with radio or wifi stuff. At the very least, you can legally boost the power on your 802.11b setup (on certain channels).

        Although I'm not sure if it's totally up to date, here is a site where you can take sample tests:
        http://www.qrz.com/testing.html [qrz.com]

        The question pools aren't that big, so if you take it a few times over you can basically exhaust all the available questions for any given test (or at least you'll start seeing repeats or very similar questions).
    • How many of you remember the articles in QST and Ham Radio from the 1970's about the ham radio operators that received and decoded the pulse-coded modulation transmissions directly from the moon during the Apollo missions? Yeah, I think we really did go there.


      I'm going to go digging anyway, but if you have any source on those articles (issues, online copies, reprints, whatever) I would greatly appreciate the shortcut!
    • by JourneyExpertApe ( 906162 ) on Monday December 19, 2005 @02:21AM (#14289335)
      How many of you remember the articles in QST and Ham Radio from the 1970's about...

      I'm willing to wager: not many. For most slashdotters, the first season of Friends is retro kitsch.

      "H3y, r3m3mbr wh3n w3 w3r3 k1d5 wh3n 7hey 1nv3n73d dvdburn3rs?"
      "n0, dvdbyrn3rs h4ve 4lw4y5 3xis73d. PWN3D!!!!11"
      "0h y34h, i f0rg0t."
  • The article doesn't mention how he also needed a Uranium PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator
  • by gibodean ( 224873 ) on Monday December 19, 2005 @12:26AM (#14288954)
    It's nice having so many links embedded in the summary, but which one links to where it's actually reported ? I'd expect a link on the "reported" word.....
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I opened them all in separate tabs, realized how many there were, and then proceeded to read none of them.
  • Can somebody point me the correct HREF to click on ?

    You made your point dude, you're good at linking sites to your posts... :-)

    RedVortex
  • by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Monday December 19, 2005 @12:34AM (#14288986)
    because that's one helluva Pringle's can. Defcon contests, you're over.
  • A mirror. Another awesome article ruined by the slashdot effect.
  • by wa2flq ( 313837 ) on Monday December 19, 2005 @12:47AM (#14289031)


    Gonna need a lot fo postage on that QSL Card....
  • Yay for Amateurs! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by drwho ( 4190 ) on Monday December 19, 2005 @12:56AM (#14289060) Homepage Journal
    I think this is great. It shows what's possible, even without a huge budget. I wish I could read more about it, but the sites have all been slashDOSed.

    But just because they guy isn't paid to do this, and didn't spend a million dollars on the equipment, doesn't mean that anyone can do it -- setups like these are tricky. I imagine he had ot capture a lot of data, and use some really powerful computer for signal processing.

    Now, if he can send signals BACK to mars, and have them interpreted by beings or equipment there, I'd be even further impressed.

    I'd like to claim that this is a victory for ham radio. In a way it is, as it is a radio accomplishment and the fellow is not paid for this. But as it doesn't involve any transmission, it's more of an SWL (ShortWave Listener) accomplishment than an Amateur Radio accomplishment.
    • I'd like to claim that this is a victory for ham radio. In a way it is, as it is a radio accomplishment and the fellow is not paid for this. But as it doesn't involve any transmission, it's more of an SWL (ShortWave Listener) accomplishment than an Amateur Radio accomplishment.

      I would argue that reception technology is just as important in amateur radio as transmission technology. Ideally, you use both...

      Pretty soon Amateur Radio operators will have a working satellite orbiting Mars anyway. I'm not sure e

    • Re:Yay for Amateurs! (Score:2, Informative)

      by uhfsatcom ( 938169 )
      HI,

      Yep its probably a victory for ham radio - since I'm licensed and operate >1GHz only, its experience with building ham transmitters / receivers etc that gave me knowledge etc, to build an 8.4GHz rx. The whole project was done to see if it was technically possible to build a receiver - I've not really got the time / interest to delve into the telemetry formats or to work out how to decode the tt&c data.

      Next, I'm waiting for the 'New Horizons' mission to pluto, that will provide an interesting si
  • is the direct digital converter some magic piece of hardware, or is it just a FFT on samples?
  • I'd love to hear some of that stuff.
  • Whoa! (Score:2, Funny)

    by dookus ( 891928 )
    Pigs' hearing is *that* good?
  • Power being wasted? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ruff_ilb ( 769396 )
    If we're broadcasting a signal so strong that some random dude can pick it up at home with homemade equipment, isn't that an unnecessary amount of power being wasted on transmissions? I don't know about the actual power consumption, but seriously, when your launch costs are in terms of millions (if not billions) of dollars, you shouldn't have this sort of ineffeciency.
    • by NixieBunny ( 859050 ) on Monday December 19, 2005 @01:49AM (#14289229) Homepage
      Perhaps you meant to say "some random microwave receiver expert", not "some random dude". This is not everyday work - I build stuff like this for radiotelescopes. But I'm surprised that he used a tiny 1 meter diameter dish to receive the signal - I was expecting at least a standard old-fashioned 3 meter satellite dish to have been used to improve the signal level at the receiver.

      I am waiting patiently for the equipment webpage to load so that I can see what sort of filters he used. That's the main tricky part for doing such an experiment - you need to build a custom filter to reject everything that isn't in the spacecraft's frequency band. The rest of the equipment is apparently a modified satellite TV receiver and a generic software radio.

      • by uhfsatcom ( 938169 ) on Monday December 19, 2005 @06:37AM (#14289880)
        Hi, re the bpf, its only a 2 cavity filter made in wg16, cf=8420 with about 50MHz bandwidth, and RF coupled in and out via the standard probed with appropriate matching screws. Using that dish, the signal isnt that strong, its detectable though on an FFT as per the article. There is a nice page on x-band space probe reception with some example audio at http://www.setileague.org/photos/probes.htm [setileague.org]
        The next plan is to try to hear the orbiters that are currently at Mars, but that will need the 3.7m dish.
        regards,
        Paul (uhf-satcom.com contributor)
        • Hi, re the bpf, its only a 2 cavity filter made in wg16, cf=8420 with about 50MHz bandwidth, and RF coupled in and out via the standard probed with appropriate matching screws. Using that dish, the signal isnt that strong, its detectable though on an FFT as per the article. There is a nice page on x-band space probe reception with some example audio at http://www.setileague.org/photos/probes.htm [setileague.org]
          The next plan is to try to hear the orbiters that are currently at Mars, but that will need the 3.7m dish.


          It's su
  • ...Zonk has put in a strong late entry for the coveted "most links in a single slashdot submission" prize for 2005.
  • Communication mode (Score:2, Interesting)

    by earthstar ( 748263 )
    I have always wondered,what type of commmunication is to communicate with far far away missions like Hubble? How does the signal reach earth?When signals are travelling through millions of miles through space ,wont it weaken to nothing?
  • In Soviet Russia the orbiter hears you. oh..wait...hmmm
  • Muppets? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Monday December 19, 2005 @03:07AM (#14289426)
    Did anyone else read that title as:
    "Ham Nears Mars Orbit 45 Million Miles From Earth"

    I thought it was going to a story about Piiiigs in Spaaaaace!
    • Re:Muppets? (Score:2, Funny)

      by tokul ( 682258 )
      > Did anyone else read that title as:
      > "Ham Nears Mars Orbit 45 Million Miles From Earth"

      With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine. (rfc 1925)
    • Hey, at least due to the fact that it's ham, we know that it's not Jews in Space (as was part of Mel Brooks' History of the World Part 2).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 19, 2005 @04:11AM (#14289560)
    Slashdot [slashdot.org] is a public forum [publicforuminstitute.org] where everything [everything2.com] is dicussed [aol.com] in far too much depth [de220.com] and 90% [90percenttrue.com] of it is pointless [pointless.com]
  • The New Horizons [jhuapl.edu] probe to Pluto launches next month. The latest news [space.com] has the probe launching between January 17 (a six-day delay from the original plan, due to a fuel tank problem) and February 14.

    As Paul Marsh did here detecting the MRO on its way to Mars, one of the benefits of setting up the receiving system while the probe is outbound is that the signal starts out strong, so your first-generation system can be somewhat crude. As the signal weakens (over the years in the New Horizons case), you can gra
  • I had assumed that the copper tubes were for feeding liquid nitrogen or something similar to keep the GAASFET parametric amp cool and keep the heat noise down. But according to the article, they are actually the waveguides. Not bad. Home Depot could use this for advertising.
  • This is good news for the http://www.amsat-dl.org/p5a/ [slashdot.org] amateur radio mission to Mars!


    This is just another reason why amateur radio still matters.



  • by mtec ( 572168 ) on Monday December 19, 2005 @08:44AM (#14290147)
    Was the antenna in a Spiral or was it flat and Deli thin?

    Oh, and I'll bet all he could hear was 'The Cure'.

    I'm very very sorry. I'm such a ha... never mind.
  • How long until this guy receives more than the Mars orbiter signal...a visit from FBI? I give it 14 days, tops.
  • This sounds like a really great feat. Hmm that FFT looks a bit like what SETI says you don't want to get right? Well it's fabulous stuff and I wish I had a ham radio. Two dumb questions from an astronomy fan.

    1. Sol sends out microwaves too. If you were carrying a dish like in the photo and tilted it accidentally up at the sun, and happened to have a hand near the return at its focus, would you get burned or at least start feeling a rise in temperature? And would the other guy start hearing some kind of

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