Tagged: solar orbit

Receiving the STEREO-A Solar Orbiting Satellite with a 66cm Dish

STEREO-A is a satellite launched in 2006 which is orbiting the sun and used for making solar observations. Usually it is so far away that massive deep space satellite dish's are required to receive this satellite. However for the first time since it's launch, STEREO-A's orbit is taking it close enough to Earth for small home satellite ground stations to be able to receive the data and download some images of the sun. 

Over on his Blog Scott Tilley has written up an article showing how it is now (temporarily) possible to receive and decode STEREO-A with a small 66cm dish. The satellite will be closest to Earth on August 17 2023, however Scott notes that since mid June the signal has already been dramatically increasing.

Scott's blog post explains the orbit, how the satellite transmits at 8.443.579 GHz, and shows his feed and hardware setup which involves a few filters, LNAs, GPS reference clock, a mixer and an Ettus B200 SDR. He also notes how he uses a modified motorized telescope mount to automatically track the satellite as it moves through space.

The rest of Scott's post explains how to use the "CCSDS Turbo R6 K8920" Decoder in SatDump to decode the signal and recover images, noting that some tuning of parameters was required and that because of the slow data rate it can take hours to get even one megabyte of data. He goes on to acknowledge everyone who figured out how to decode the image and telemetry data from the satellite, some observations on the STEREO-A beacon and finally some amazing images and animations he's received.

A weak signal from STEREO-A received back in mid June 2023
Image of the sun from STEREO-A