Special Visiting Guest Speakers - Wednesday March 22, 2017

There will be a special meeting tomorrow (3/22) from 7:15 pm (sharp) to about 8:30 pm in Squires 232 (not Squires 342). This meeting will feature presentations from visiting guest speakers Dr. Anthea Coster and Dr. Phil Erickson (W1PJE) of MIT Haystack Observatory. Dr. Coster will give a talk titled "Brief Introduction and Examples of Satellite Tracking at Radio Frequencies". Dr. Erickson will speak about "New Amateur Radio Collaborations at MIT Haystack Observatory". (See the following abstracts for details.) Everyone (members and non-members) are invited to attend and we will provide Carol Lee doughnuts. Also, before the meeting, we will be taking Dr. Coster and Dr. Erickson out to dinner at the Cellar (302 North Main Street, next to Chipotle) around 5pm. Everyone is invited to join us there for dinner and casual conversation!

Brief introduction and examples of Satellite Tracking at Radio Frequencies
Dr. Anthea Coster
Assistant Director, MIT Haystack Observatory
This talk will provide a brief description of satellite tracking at MIT. I will explain how satellite orbits are predicted and then how radars subsequently use these predictions to search for, track, and improve orbital element values. I will briefly review the history of satellite tracking at the Millstone Hill radar complex on the Haystack Observatory grounds, including a discussion of the tracking of the Sputnik 1 satellite at Millstone in 1957; the incorporation of computers to command and control the radar; and the development of coherent processing for tracking deep space satellites in real-time (a technique borrowed from Haystack planetary astronomers). I will also show a movie of the current satellite catalog in orbit. I will finish by showing an example of passive satellite tracking using the ground based and Haystack developed Radio Array of Portable Interferometric Devices (RAPID) system, a next generation flexible and multi-purpose radio capture system. In particular, I will give an example of RAPID capabilities by showing high fidelity RF voltage-level recordings of CW coherent radio signals at 150 MHz and 400 MHz originating from satellite beacons in low Earth orbit. These signals can be used to obtain information on ionospheric electron density variations.

New Amateur Radio Collaborations at MIT Haystack Observatory
Dr. Phil Erickson, W1PJE
Assistant Director, MIT Haystack Observatory
Group lead, Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences
MIT Haystack Observatory is an interdisciplinary research center of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) engaged in radio astronomy, geodesy, upper atmospheric physics, and radar applications. Haystack has been conducting frontier investigations in the geophysical remote sensing domain for more than 60 years, and our overall mission includes a significant dedication to education and training opportunities in the art, application, and science of radio for the next generation of scientists and engineers.

As part of our desire to expand these opportunities, we have recently initiated a number of pilot projects to connect with the larger national and international radio amateur community, who are not only our physical neighbors but also our radio frequency neighbors. Our projects are being led by our engineering coordinator and longtime ham Will Rogers KD4FOV, and are conducted in partnership with members of the Nashoba Valley Amateur Radio Club (NVARC), an ARRL Special Service club in nearby Pepperell, Massachusetts. Links are also being considered with the active North East Weak Signal Group working at VHF, UHF, and SHF frequencies in the New York and New England area. I will briefly describe initial tests and development ideas for these projects. These include concepts for high sensitivity Earth-Moon-Earth (EME) 70 cm work using our large 46 meter steerable antenna, and engagement with NVARC’s Thinking Day On The Air, organized by the World Association of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides and featured recently in the March 16, 2017 ARRL Newsletter. I will conclude by discussing ways we might extend these partnerships to include both VTARA and the emerging HamSCI initiative.