German AMSAT First To Bounce Signals Off Venus

From the April 3, 2009 ARRL Letter:

On March 25, a group from AMSAT-DL bounced radio signals off the surface of Venus, marking the first time Amateur Radio operators have bounced radio signals off another planet. According to AMSAT-DL President Peter Guelzow, DB2OS, the Earth-Venus-Earth (EVE) transmission is another step in preparing for a mission to Mars.

According to an AMSAT-DL press release, the team’s transmitter was generating about 6 kW CW on 2.4 GHz. Guelzow said that signals were sent from a ground control station at the IUZ Sternwarte observatory in Bochum: “After traveling almost 100 million kilometers and a round trip delay of about 5 minutes, they were clearly received as echoes from the surface of Venus. This was the first German success to receive echoes of other planets. In addition, this is the farthest distance crossed by radio amateurs, over 100 times further than echoes from the moon (EME reflections).”

The EVE experiment was repeated on March 26 for several hours with “good echoes” from Venus, Guelzow said. “Morse code was used to transmit the well-known ‘HI’ signature known from the AMSAT OSCAR satellites.”

For receiving the EVE reflections, Guelzow said that the team used a fast Fourier transform (FFT) analysis with an integration time of 5 minutes. “After integrating for 2 minutes only, the reflected signals were clearly visible in the display,” he said. “Despite the bad weather, signals from Venus could be detected from 1038 UTC on until the planet reached the local horizon.”

Guelzow explained that with the EVE reflections, the high power amplifier “has therefore passed this crucial test as a final key component for the planned P5-A Mars mission. By receiving generated echoes from Venus, the ground and command station for the Mars probe has been cleared for operational use and the AMSAT-DL team is now gearing up for building the P5-A space probe. AMSAT-DL wants to show that low-budget interplanetary exploration is possible with its approach.”

Development, design and construction of this first German Mars mission have been achieved by AMSAT-DL and its partner organizations, Guelzow explained. “Already a third of the total project costs were performed. More work shall follow during the mission. AMSAT-DL would like to demonstrate that their approaches to low-cost space missions are feasible.”  

Information provided by AMSAT-DL. Pictures of the equipment used can be found on the AMSAT DL website.

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