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Weather Satellite Station
System 5...

Our fifth system became a full weather satellite ground station system (see below) with the addition of the capability to receive geostationary satellite images. The higher frequency transmissions required a parabolic dish and an additional receiver.

Meteosat WEFAX Image Sequence

04:00 - March 11, 2000

06:00 - March 11, 2000

08:00 - March 11, 2000

10:00 - March 11, 2000

A sequence of 4 images over a 6 hour period taken with System 5.
There were actually 16 images taken in all; one every 30 minutes.

We chose to look at the images transmitted in the WEFAX format by the European Metosat weather satellites (WEFAX is also sent the NOAA GEOS satellites.) This is a format that is roughly similar to the FAX format.

A 1691MHz signal carrys images in the visible and infrared and for different regions of the hemisphere seen by the satellite.

The image transmissions of a given region are repeated periodically, as often as every 30minutes, so that an animation of the weather for that region can be accumulated over several hours.

A 90cm dish antenna with a low noise preamplifier mounted directly on the dish was used to pick up the signals.

First setup
Our fifth system

The Timestep WEFAX receiver takes the 1691MHz input signal and outputs an audio signal to the PROsat interface box.

The PROsat program can thus obtain images from both the polar orbiters and GEO sats. The program includes various tools for handling the GEO images and for building animations.

Advanced Satellite Ground Station

Parabolic dish with automatic rotor control for tracking
non-geostationary satellites.

After I left Sweden, Prof. Thomas Lindbald and Bruce Lockhart continued to develop the ground station and went beyond weather satellite imaging. Using a tracking system developed by Bruce, a second dish was installed with a motorized rotor system that allows the dish to track a moving satellite as it crosses the sky.

While waiting for construction and launch of the Swedish Hugin and Victoria nanosats, the aim is to develop the capability to receive data transmissions from other scientific satellites.

With such a capability, it will be possible to develop student projects, e.g. for senior theses, in which the student can learn to receive and analyse actual space science data.

Though still in the development stage, they have succeeded already in obtaining signals from the IMAGE spacecraft that is studying the earth's magnetosphere. See graph of signal strength.

Eventually, transmission capabilities will be added so that full communications with and control of the nanosats can be accomplished.

Update: June.8.04 - As shown by the graph, Bruce and Thomas were able to receive a signal from Image but unfortunately they never got beyond this to the point of decoding data from the satellite. It was difficult to get the assistance needed from the Image group within the time before Bruce retired. A program at Goddard to assist student groups in building ground stations also never got going.

Generally, it is difficult to obtain the necessary technical specs, hardware, and software needed to pickup and decode data from scientific satellites. The groups have other priorities than helping outsiders look at their hard earned raw data before they do.

Note that some of the nanosats using the amateur bands are student scientific satellites and you might be able to pickup data from the instruments on these spacecraft.


System 4 Satellite Ground Station Space Radio Home


The Art of C. Sergent Lindsey






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