Deep space reception of Tianwen-1 by AMSAT-DL using GNU radio

Deep space reception of Tianwen-1 by AMSAT-DL using GNU radio

April 10, 2022 Off By Peter Gülzow

This paper by Daniel Estévez EA4GPZ, Mario Lorenz DL5MLO and Peter Gülzow DB2OS describes the reception of the Tianwen-1 Chinese Mars mission carried out by AMSAT-DL with the 20 meter antenna at Bochum Observatory (Germany). A real-time GNU Radio decoder has been used to receive and store telemetry almost every day over the course of 10 months. Some of the telemetry variables, such as the trajectory information, have been successfully interpreted and used to track the progress of the mission.

The paper was published in the proceedings for GNU Radio Conference 2021 and recently published together with other papers in the area of radar, signal detection/classification, high rate processing, and sensing.

For nearly one year, the German amateur satellite association AMSAT-DL has regularly been decoding the telemetry of the Chinese Mars probe Tianwen-1 using the 20m antenna at Bochum observatory and GNU Radio. This has allowed us to obtain updated orbital information from the spacecraft and receive the relayed signals during the landing of the Zhurong rover. To our best knowledge, this is a record of using GNU Radio for receiving digital communications at a distance greater than 300 million km.

The paper “Qustions to Heaven” published by the Royal Astronomical Society is another example on the international cooperation involving AMSAT-DL.

  • Questions to Heaven (PDF) – Benjamin Fernando and colleagues report on the international cooperation involved InSight’s attempt to gather seismic data from the arrival at Mars of China’s Zhurong rover.

An extraordinary list of scientific & technical amateur radio articles from Daniel Estévez EA4GPZ about his research on Tianwen-1 can be found on here.

An update about Tianwen-1’s remote sensing orbit

One month of Tianwen-1 remote sensing orbit

Tianwen-1 remote sensing orbit

Tianwen-1 communications relay orbit

Tianwen-1 attitude in Mars orbit

Tianwen-1 landing

Tianwen-1 reconnaissance orbit

Tianwen-1 phasing orbit

Tianwen-1 plane change manoeuvre

Tianwen-1 plane change planning

More about the Tianwen-1 timestamps

Tracking Tianwen-1’s orbit to Mars: part II

Tracking Tianwen-1’s orbit to Mars




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