[amsat-bb] Re: Mars Rover Program

Edward Cole kl7uw at acsalaska.net
Sun Jan 11 12:05:34 PST 2009


The rovers operate on UHF links to their orbiting companion which 
link to earth on mw frequencies to my understanding.  I haven't 
specifically researched all of the missions so one probably can get 
more certain information from mission websites or from JPL, which 
administers most of the missions.

in 1996 Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) was launched to Mars and is an 
orbiter.  It carries 437-MHz equipment for communicating with 
rovers.  JPL involved hams in characterizing the 437-MHz system 
shortly after launch.  That helped the mission folks to gather real 
time data on how well it would work as a planet-to-orbit link.  QST 
had an article outlining this mission at the time.

A yahoo group called amateur-DSN is a good place to ask your 
questions, as this is a international group who build earth stations 
attempting to receive signals from space probes such as the Mars 
missions. Typically, they try for the orbiters that have higher gain 
antennas and more RF power.  The rovers used off the shelf UHF radio 
modems which probably only output a few watts to low gain or omni 
antennas.  However, I do recall seeing a dish on the rovers so that 
may indicate mw backup links that might possibly be detectable by 
amateur stations.

Later this year I will be looking to add 8415-MHz receiving equipment 
to my 16-foot dish with the object to try recovery of carrier signals 
from some of these probes.

73, Ed - KL7UW

At 09:37 AM 1/11/2009, Curt Nixon wrote:
>Just watched the Nat'l Geographic Special on the Mars Rovers--Spirit and
>Opportunity.  Great program !!
>Has anyone here been able to rcv any of the signals from them?  Any
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