Tagged: meteor detection

TechMinds: Detecting Meteors With Software Defined Radio

In his latest video Matt from the TechMinds YouTube channel has shown how it's possible to detect the RF echoes of meteors falling in the earths atmosphere which a software defined radio.

The concept is relatively straightforward. Meteors falling in the atmosphere generate an RF reflective ionized trail, which is highly reflective to RF. In the UK where Matt lives, the Sherwood Observatory of the Mansfield and Sutton Astronomical Society (MSAS) have set up a meteor detection beacon "GB3MBA" which transmits an 80W CW signal at 50.408 MHz.

When tuned to this frequency with an SDRplay RSPdx SDR, Matt shows how the shifted reflections of meteors can be seen as blips around the beacon's carrier frequency. What is also seen are reflections from aircraft which show up as longer doppler shifted lines. Matt notes that if you live within 200km of the beacon a simple dipole antenna is sufficient, however any further might require an antenna system with more gain like a Moxon or Yagi.

We note that in Europe a similar beacon called the GRAVES space radar in France which operates at 143.050 MHz can be used.

Detecting Meteors With Software Defined Radio

Using the GRAVES Radar to Listen to Reflections from Meteors, Planes and Spacecraft

Over on his blog DK8OK has created a post that explains how European SDR users can use their devices to monitor reflections coming off the Graves space radar. Graves is a space surveillance radar based in France which is designed to track spacecraft and orbital debris.

If you are in Europe you can also make use of the Graves radar simply by tuning to its frequency of 143.050 MHz and listening for reflections of its signal bouncing off things like meteors, planes and spacecraft. Since Graves points its signal upwards, it’s unlikely that you’ll directly receive the signal straight from the antenna, instead you’ll only see the reflections from objects.

DK8OK also explains in his post how you can use SDR-Console V3 to create a level diagram which shows power vs time, allowing you to count reflections and visualize the response of the reflection.

Any SDR that can tune to VHF frequencies such an an RTL-SDR can be used for monitoring reflections like this. If you aren’t in Europe you might consider looking for distant strong transmitters such as for TV/FM which you could also monitor for reflections.

Graves reflection of a meteor trail visualized in SDR-Console V3.
Graves reflection of a meteor trail visualized in SDR-Console V3.

Meteor Detection with the RTL-SDR

YouTube user Tim Havens has uploaded two videos showing his meteor detection results with an RTL-SDR dongle. Tim uses a stock R820T dongle, and a 6 element yagi antenna with LNA.

For the software he uses Spectrum Lab and SDRSharp.

Update: Tehrasha from the comments section has found a page by Tim Havens showing a little information on his meteor detection setup.

RTL SDR R820T and Meteor Detection