Tuesday, January 10, 2012
The recent Quadrantid Meteor Shower provided an opportunity for some interesting radio listening. Space Weather Radio ran a nice feature on the reception of radio waves reflected from the ionized paths of meteors. With a few mouse clicks, you can listen to the realtime reception of the Air Force Space Surveillance Radar transmitting on 216.98 MHz. I don't have a received operating in this band, and probably live too far north anyway. Thanks to the Space Radio Patron who kindly publishes his receiver's output to their website. I then downloaded iSpectrum to my Mac, a freeware software spectrum analyzer from Dog Park Software. I was able to generate a real-time waterfall display of the 216 MHz signal. Some time passed listening to static, until a PING came over the laptop's speaker! I wasn't certain if this was my laptop, or the dog. BUT, a quick check of iSpectrum indicated a clear change in the radio signal. I do believe (hope) either a satellite or Quadrantid Meteor caused the reflection and change in the signal. There's some additional great information on this technique at science@NASA.