AMSAT-DL and Bochum observatory succeed in receiving ICE/ISEE-3

On March 1st/2nd 2014, a team of radio amateurs succeeded in receiving the beacon from the ICE/ISSE-3 spacecraft.

The 20m dish from the Bochum observatory (callsign DK0SB) was used by personnel from AMSAT-DL to detect the unmodulated carrier from ICE/ISEE-3 on 2217.493 MHz (left hand circular polarized) with an estimated signal to noise ratio of 17.8 db (bandwidth 1 Hz). Both the position in the sky and the observed doppler shift closely match the orbital elements given by JPL Horizons.

A more detailed analysis is ongoing, more tracking passes are planned.

This result was made possible by a large team of individuals of Bochum observatory/AMSAT-DL who donate their spare time to the Bochum ground station hard- and software. Special thanks go to James Miller (G3RUH), Mario Lorenz (DL5MLO) and Michael Lengruesser (DD5ER). We would like to thank Jeremy Bauman from KinetX Aerospace (Tempe AZ, USA) for providing the ICE trajectory solution which was essential in finding the spacecraft and Jon D. Giorgini from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Pasadena CA, USA) for his support.

Fast facts:

Location: Bochum, Germany

Antenna: 20m diameter, G/T 31.2 dB(1/K)

Date: 2014 Mar 02 [Sun]

Time: 1822 UT

Range: 42.8M km

Azimuth: 230°

Elevation: 49°

TX Frequency: 2217.493 MHz LHCP (Doppler corrected)

RX Antenna BW: -3 dB 0.43°, -10 dB 0.71°

Signal Strength: 17.8 dB-Hz (carrier-to-noise ratio in 1 Hz BW)

Estimated EIRP: 10 W (carrier power)

Sidebands: None observed

Receive equipment: 13cm low-noise preamplifier VLNA13 from Sam Jewell, G4DDK (www.g4ddk.com)

USRP from Ettus Research for data acquisition (www.ettus.com)

Note to ‘estimated EIRP’: the orientation of the spacecraft and hence the effective antenna gain in direction of earth is unknown. The actual spacecraft EIRP is therefore estimated with some margin for error.