[amsat-bb] moonbounce on 40 meters
n8fgv at usa.net
Fri Jan 11 11:23:51 PST 2008
Scientists Detect Lowest Frequency Radar Echo From The Moon
Washington DC (SPX) Jan 09, 2008
A team of scientists from the Naval Research Laboratory, the Air Force
Research Laboratory's (AFRL's) Research Vehicles Directorate, Kirtland Air
Force Base, N.M., and the University of New Mexico (UNM) has detected the
lowest frequency radar echo from the moon ever seen with earth-based
In the lunar echo experiment (more properly called a lunar bistatic radar
experiment), the Air Force/Navy High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program
(HAARP) high power transmitter, located near Gakona, Alaska, launched high
power radio waves toward the moon. The reflected signal, weakened because of
the long distance to the moon and back, was detected by receiving antennas in
NRL consultant scientist Dr. Paul Rodriguez, of NRL's Information Technology
Division, who conceived and proposed the experiment explains, "Analysis of the
echo gives information on the properties of the lunar sub-surface topography,
because the low frequency radar waves propagate to varying depths below the
visible surface of the moon. It is somewhat like sonar, except that we are
using electromagnetic waves rather than sound waves.
The experiment also allows us to study the interaction of the echo signal with
the earth's ionosphere along its return path, because the ionosphere is only
partially transparent at low frequencies."
During the experiment, which was carried out on Oct. 28 and 29, 2007, the
radar signals from HAARP were at 7.4075 MHz and 9.4075 MHz. Both the
transmitted signal and the echo from the moon were detected by NRL Remote
Sensing Division scientist, Dr. Kenneth Stewart, and NRL engineer Brian Hicks
with antennas built for the Long Wavelength Array (LWA). LWA is a radio
interferometer being built in the desert west of Socorro, N.M., by UNM, NRL,
the Applied Research Laboratories at the University of Texas at Austin,
Virginia Tech, and Los Alamos National Laboratory, for studies of space
physics and astrophysics.
The LWA is intended to work below the 88 MHz edge of the FM band, but to get
down to the HAARP signal frequencies, the antennas were equipped with digital
receivers and specially designed matching networks developed by Stewart,
Hicks, and engineer Nagini Paravastu at NRL.
"Detecting the very weak radio signals after their round trip to the moon and
back was challenging and required careful modification of the LWA antennas to
improve their performance at these frequencies," says Stewart. NRL LWA Project
Scientist Dr. Namir Kassim notes, "One of the successful goals of this
experiment was to demonstrate that the LWA can work with instruments like
HAARP at lower frequencies than its nominal design."
The HAARP radar antenna array was "phased" to point about 45 degrees away from
the zenith, in order to track and directly illuminate the moon. Its full total
power capability, about 3.6 MW, was used to transmit pulses two seconds in
length every five seconds over a period of two hours each day, one hour at
Using such a pulse pattern makes the echo, which arrives back from the moon
2.4 seconds later, immediately recognizable, allowing the scientists to
distinguish the moon's echo signal from the HAARP signal. The HAARP signal
reached the receiving antennas in New Mexico by reflecting off the underside
of the ionosphere, the region of the Earth's atmosphere from 50 to 400 km in
altitude that is partially ionized by solar radiation.
The lunar echo measurements at 7.4075 MHZ are believed to be the lowest
frequency (longest wavelength) at which bistatic radar measurements have been
conducted. "Even though lunar echoes have been detected before at higher
frequencies, it was really exciting to see them arrive in real time out under
the full moon in the New Mexico desert," says NRL's Hicks.
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