Tag Archives: Radio Astronomy

Receiving Jupiter with the SDRplay RSP1

I’ve been fascinated with radio astronomy since my university days. In the 1980s and 90s almost any radio astronomy experiment equated to forking out some serious money to purchase a wideband receiver (serious money to a student, at least). With the advent of SDRs, though, radio astronomy has become affordable for everyone.

Many thanks to RTL-SDR.com for publishing the following video and post about monitoring Jupiter radio bursts:

Over on YouTube user MaskitolSAE has uploaded a video showing him receiving some noise bursts from Jupiter with his SDRplay RSP1. The planet Jupiter is known to emit bursts of noise via natural ‘radio lasers’ powered partly by the planets interaction with the electrically conductive gases emitted by Io, one of the the planets moons. When Jupiter is high in the sky and the Earth passes through one of these radio lasers the noise bursts can be received on Earth quite easily with an appropriate antenna

In his video MaskitolSAE shows the 10 MHz of waterfall and audio from some Jupiter noise bursts received with his SDRplay RSP1 at 22119 kHz. According to the YouTube description, it appears that he is using the UTR-2 radio telescope which is a large Ukrainian radio telescope installation that consists of an array of 2040 dipoles. A professional radio telescope installation is not required to receive the Jupiter bursts (a backyard dipole tuned to ~20 MHz will work), but the professional radio telescope does get some really nice strong bursts as seen in the video.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Click here to read at RTL-SDR.com.

As Carl mentions above, you do not need a professional radio telescope to receive Jupiter noise bursts, a dipole will do.

In fact, the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI) has a dedicated Jupiter receiver–a simple SDR kit called the Radio JOVE Receiver which is promoted by NASA. While PARI has the resources to install any number of antennas, PARI uses two simple dipoles which are mounted only a few feet off the ground as their radio telescope. I doubt their investment in the antennas exceeded $50. It works brilliantly.

The Radio JOVE receiver at PARI

I had planned to purchase and build a JOVE receiver (and, for fun, still may!), but it would be much easier to simply use the SDRplay RSP I already have in my shack. What a great project this fall.

Post readers: Please comment if you’ve used an SDR or JOVE kit to receive Jupiter bursts!

Arecibo: Legendary radio telescope hangs in the balance

The Arecibo Radio Telescope, at Arecibo, Puerto Rico. At 1000 feet (305 m) across, it is the second largest dish antenna in the world. (Source: Wikipedia)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, who shares the following story from Nature:

“Some of the observatories targeted in the review have found potential partners: New Mexico State University in Las Cruces is leading an effort to take over the Dunn Solar Telescope in Sunspot, New Mexico. Others remain in limbo, including the 100-metre radio telescope in Green Bank, West [Virgina], where university partners have offered limited help.”

Click here to read the full article on Nature’s website.

Will Green Bank soon become a little less radio quiet?

GreenBankTelescope(Source: BBC News via Richard Langley)

Disturbing the peace: Can America’s quietest town be saved?

There’s a town in West Virginia where there are tight restrictions on mobile signal, wifi and other parts of what most of us know as simply: modern life. It means Green Bank is a place unlike anywhere else in the world. But that could be set to change.

“Do you ever sit awake at night and wonder, what if?” I asked.

Mike Holstine’s eyes twinkled like the stars he had spent his life’s work observing.

“The universe is so huge,” he began.

“On the off chance we do get that hugely lucky signal, when we look in the right place, at the right frequency. When we get that… can you imagine what that’s going to do to humankind?”

Holstine is business manager at the Green Bank Observatory, the centrepiece of which is the colossal Green Bank Telescope. On a foggy Tuesday morning, I’m standing in the middle of it, looking up, feeling small.

Though the GBT has many research tasks, the one everyone talks about is the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence. The GBT listens out for signs of communication or activity by species that are not from Earth.

[…]Green Bank sits at the heart of the National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13,000 square mile (33,669 sq km) area where certain types of transmissions are restricted so as not to create interference to the variety of instruments set up in the hills – as well as the Green Bank Observatory, there is also Sugar Grove, a US intelligence agency outpost.

For those in the immediate vicinity of the GBT, the rules are more strict. Your mobile phone is useless here, you will not get a TV signal and you can’t have strong wi-fi? -?though they admit this is a losing battle. Modern life is winning, gradually. And newer wi-fi standards do not interfere with the same frequencies as before.[…]

Read the full article on the BBC News website.

Additionally, if you have access to the BBC iPlayer, click here to watch the Click episode featuring Green Bank.

Radio-Sky Spectrograph: Radio Astonomy with the SDRplay RSP

The SDRplay RSP software defined radio

The SDRplay RSP software defined radio

(Source: Amateur Radio Astronomy blog)

Thanks to the efforts of Nathan Towne, we now have the ability to use [the SDRplay RSP] with Radio-Sky Spectrograph (RSS).

[…]As with RTL Bridge, a intermediary program sits between RSS and the receiver.  This program was written by Nathan Towne and is named SDRPlay2RSS, not too surprisingly.  This is a dot NET program and if you are up to date on your dot NET run-time updates you should be fine. Installation is a no brainer as SDRPlay2RSS comes with the RSS 2.8.18 update. SDRPlay2RSS does not come with the current full install of RSS so you must do the Full install and then the Update.

Continue reading…

Click here to read our review of the SDRplay RSP.

China nears completion of world’s largest radio telescope

FAST radio telescope [Photo/Xinhua: State Council, People's Republic of China]

FAST radio telescope [Photo/Xinhua: State Council, People’s Republic of China]

(Source: BBC News)

China has fitted the final piece on what will be the world’s largest radio telescope, due to begin operations in September, state media report.

The 500m-wide Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, is the size of 30 football fields.
The $180m (£135m) satellite project will be used to explore space and help look for extraterrestrial life, Xinhua news agency reported.

Advancing China’s space program remains a key priority for Beijing.[…]

Click here to read the full article and watch the accompanying video.