Chang’e 4 in Lunar Orbit

After a few days of head scratching the data being received from the Moon by amateurs clearly shows Chang’e 4 in lunar orbit, just not the expected orbit.  The plane of the Chang’e 4 appears to be about 90 degree off of what was expected based on the Chang’e 3 trajectory assuming we understand it correctly.  Communication activity appears limited to direct communication with Earth on X-band as there have been no signs of activity from Queqiao or on S-band from Chang’e 4.  Chang’e 3 has made some brief appearances apparently being told to keep quiet while Chang’e 4 gets ready to land.

Continue reading “Chang’e 4 in Lunar Orbit”

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X Marks the Orbit?

Radio amateurs Edgar Kaiser, DF2MZ and Paul Marsh, M0EYT received a radio signal today from the Moon consistent with frequencies published by the ITU for the Chinese lunar exploration program.  However, there’s a catch.  The data does not fit the orbit that it should be in.

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Eating Static from the Moon…

Xinhua reported today that Chang’e 4 entered lunar orbit at about 08:39 UTC on Dec 12th.  No amateur observers reported observing the event; however, three highly competent amateur observers in Europe shared observations hours after the lunar orbit insertion burn was executed. No evidence of a signal from Chang’e 4 has been noted since my loss of signal earlier on Dec 12th.  I later conducted similar observations and searched around the Moon for the signal and found nothing we can relate to Chang’e 4. Only signals from Chang’e 5T-1 and Queqiao where noted.

[UPDATED – Dec 13th, 2018] Continue reading “Eating Static from the Moon…”

A Trip to the Dark Side of the Moon?

On December 7th, 2018 at 1823 UTC the Chinese launched the much anticipated Chang’e 4 mission to the far side of the Moon.  Unfortunately, the launch was not broadcast live nor has there been much in the way of official word on what is going on with the mission.  Fortunately, we have both the Chang’e program history and Chang’e 4’s transmitter to help us fill in the blanks of what to expect and witness history in realtime without a filter.

So for those not accustomed to watching a space first unfold in the language of the Doppler effect here’s a primer of what has happened and what to expect.

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The Stanford Dish

The Stanford University Dish some 46m or 150′ in diameter was erected in 1961 and became one of world’s largest dish antennas, even today.  The Dish was commissioned by the Stanford Research Institute that later became SRI International.  This fact made complete sense when one was standing at the control position and proudly posted on the console was the amateur radio call-sign of W6SRI.  The dish is primarily used to support spacecraft operation as it is located in an electrically noisy area limiting radio astronomy work.

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Space Strikes Back, IMAGE Returns to Silence…

Just when everyone thought the story of IMAGE was going to have a Hollywood ending she has displayed a knack for dramatic flare.

On 2018-02-25 at 02:19:19.459 UTC IMAGE ended an approximately 48 hour series of off/on sequences of its TT&C beacon and returned to silence.  It’s been over two days now and the beacon has not returned to the air.

The signal sequence in the image above shows the last few minutes of IMAGE’s transmissions. Continue reading “Space Strikes Back, IMAGE Returns to Silence…”