Update 11 May 2015: There is now a real time method for decoding Meteor-M2 LRPT images. Please also check out the new tutorial available here.
The Meteor-M N2 is a polar orbiting Russian weather satellite that was launched on July 8, 2014. Its main missions are weather forecasting, climate change monitoring, sea water monitoring/forecasting and space weather analysis/prediction.
The satellite is currently active with a Low Resolution Picture Transmission (LRPT) signal which broadcasts live weather satellite images, similar to the APT images produced by the NOAA satellites. LRPT images are however much better as they are transmitted as a digital signal with an image resolution 12 times greater than the aging analog NOAA APT signals. Some example Meteor weather images can be found on this page and the satellite can be tracked in Orbitron or online.
The RTL-SDR and other SDRs like the Funcube along with some free software can be used to receive and decode these images. LRPT images from the Meteor-M N2 are transmitted at around 137.925 MHz, so any satellite antenna like those commonly used with the NOAA weather satellites can be used.
NOTE: Meteor M1
has come alive, (now offline again), so the frequency of Meteor M2 was changed from 137.1 MHz to 137.9 MHz. Meteor M1 is now at 137.1 MHz and can be received using the same steps as in this tutorial, though please note that images from Meteor M1 are not perfect since the satellite is tumbling.
Happysat, a satellite monitoring enthusiast has emailed us with a comprehensive tutorial showing how the RTL-SDR can be used to receive and decode these LRPT images (pdf warning) (txt file). The procedure is not quite as simple as with the NOAA satellites as it involves first pre-recording the transmission as a baseband I/Q file in SDR#, changing the sample rate in Audacity, processing the file with the Lrptrx.exe software, and then using Oleg’s LRPToffLineDecoder to finally produce the image.
The tutorial also shows an alternative and faster Linux based method using some GNU Radio scripts, but with the final processing still done with Oleg’s decoder in Windows.
Update: This newer post now shows a slightly faster way for receiving and decoding LRPT images on a Windows PC which does not require the use of Audacity.
For a comprehensive book about the RTL-SDR you may be interested in our eBook available on Amazon.