Listen to the Mars Probe on a Home Scanner and Dish

the SCAN-DC mailing list about trying to listen to the Spirit Mars probe at home. I was wondering if I could take an old C-band satellite dish, a scanner and a pc to get some of the feeds coming back from Spirit. Here’s some of the replies I got. Answer #1– Given that the transmitter on Spirit is very low power and heavily encoded (notice I didn’t say encrypted), I would think that the dish and amplifier would have to be really large to get a decent signal. It’s doable, but not by the average scannists. You will notice that the first pix from Sprirt were in black and white. This is because it takes much less power to transmit a black and white picture than a color one (due to the larger bandwidth required). I would also bet a heavy amount of encoded telemetry is also on the signal, which is no doubt compressed in some manner. So whether you could receive the signal is one thing, but understanding the encoding might be a whole ‘nother question. 73s Mike —— Answer #2– If you are in to LARGE old satellite dishes, why yes. But not a home backyard sized one – more like one of the big kind that sometimes get surplussed by carriers when they shut down earthstations for overseas traffic or the government when it shuts down stations to listen to such (there are a half dozen such sites that have been put up for sale over the years). I suspect that probably a good 32 or 50 foot dish with the right X band feed would hear the signal from the high gain antenna, though you are hardly talking scanner and PC type hardware here. And apparently some folks at Stanford in Ca have been successful at seeing the signal from the rover with such a dish. There are various university and even private groups who have acquired access to these old monster satellite dishes for SETI or semi-pro radio astronomy experiments – one can be quite sure that at least one or two of these groups is probably trying to look at the downlink as we speak. —
Dave Emery N1PRE, DIE Consulting, Weston, Mass 02493]]>

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