Radio Amateurs have received signals from the NASA Mars Science Laboratory using the AMSAT-DL amateur radio facility at Bochum in Germany.
On November 26, 2011 at 15:02 UTC the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) successfully launched on an Atlas V 541 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41. It is carrying Curiosity, a 900 kg rover about the size of a small car.
It is expected to arrive at the “Red Planet” in August 2012 after a nine month flight.
Just over 7 hours after launch at 21:45 UTC the X-band telemetry signal from the MSL was received using the Bochum amateur radio facility. The signal, received at a distance of 112,000 km, had a spin-modulation of +/- 3.5 Hz with 2 revolutions / minute.
This is believed to be the first reception of the MSL outside the official NASA Deep Space Network (DSN) and the USN tracking station at Dongara, Australia (under contract to JPL for the MSL launch).
For reception of MSL James Miller G3RUH remotely reconfigured the Bochum tracking and receiving system. The MSL X-Band telemetry signal was received automatically in Bochum, no-one had to be physically on-site. This shows how flexible and reliable the system at Bochum is, ready for the planned AMSAT-DL P5-A mission to Mars.
The 20m dish at Bochum is also used by AMSAT-DL to automatically receive real-time solar data from the NASA STEREO A / B satellites. The data is transmitted to a NOAA server in the USA via the Internet.
Congratulations to the AMSAT-DL team on a remarkable acheivement.
Control Software for the Bochum Radio Telescope by James Miller G3RUH
Stereo A/B Spacecraft Telemetry Reception at Bochum by James Miller G3RUH
AMSAT-DL in Google English http://tinyurl.com/AMSAT-DL