AMSAT-DL is fortunate to have priority use of the 20m diameter antenna at the Bochum-Observatory, restored to working order by many volunteers in 2002-3. In early 2009 AMSAT-DL received a joint invitation from NASA and the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) to partner others in downloading space weather data from the Stereo spacecraft on a “best effort” basis. This has required the development of hardware and software, remote control and dealing with the problems of keeping a system running around the clock. We considered, and find, the experience to be valuable training for advanced AMSAT operations to support other interplanetary missions to Mars.
AMSAT-DL (with funding from DLR) is currently continuing to support the STEREO-A mission 24/7 with providing important scientific data, even after the loss of the STEREO-B spacecraft some years ago.
The Bochum ground station is jointly operated by AMSAT-DL and IUZ Sternwarte Bochum. We are supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) under project number 50OC1201.
STEREO Space Weather Beacons now using Turbo Code – Software written by AMSAT-DL
On 2nd April 2013, the two NASA STEREO space-based observatories switched to Turbo Codes to transmit their real-time space weather data permanently. A network of four ground stations, located at the IUZ in Bochum/Germany, CNES in Toulouse/France, NICT in Koganei/Japan and amateur radio station DL0SHF in Kiel-Ronne/Germany receives this data, and uses turbo-decoding software written by AMSAT-DL.
The Bochum station is run by AMSAT-DL e.V. and IUZ Bochum Observatory, with the support of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and DLR.
Said Doug Biesecker, NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center:
“Thanks to the wonderful work of our colleagues running the station in Bochum and the support of DLR, we can now be sure of receiving real-time data from the NASA/STEREO satellite throughout the life of the mission. The STEREO data has proven to provide significant benefits to space weather forecasting and is used by NOAA on a daily basis to ensure the best possible forecasts. Space weather increasingly threatens the technological infrastructure of our modern world, with demonstrated impacts on global positioning, power grids, and high frequency communication systems.”
The switch to Turbo Codes has improved reception capabilities of the ground stations by about 2 dB, which is a very welcome improvement giving the increasing distances – 269 and 286 million kilometers respectively – that need to be covered.
- STEREO – The sun and its energetic eruptions in 3-D (DLR Space Agency)
- Stereo A/B Spacecraft Telemetry Reception at Bochum, James Miller G3RUH (2010)
- STEREO Science Center, real time Beacon coverage chart (NASA)