How to use GRAVES radar in France to detect the ISS and metoerite showers

A project log for The Distributed Ground Station Network

tracking CubeSats faster, anywhere and anytime for everybody!

hornighornig 08/15/2016 at 19:580 Comments

If you want to track the ISS or just want to listen to "blips" generated by meteorites rushing through the atmosphere, then this short how to will show you how to use "passive radar's" reflexion on the ISS metal hull or the plasma tubes in the atmopshere created by the meteorites.

  1. your location should be in Europe (more great infos here)
  2. set your SDR# to GRAVES frequency of 143.05 MHz
  3. set the "Resolution" of the fft window to at least 52488 bins. That was our biggest mistake at first. We couldn't see the signal due to it's smaaaall bandwidth! But then we cranked up the resolution.
  4. GRAVES radar is always on (at least that is what we experienced), so you wait and check for signals.
  5. If you check GPREDICT for ISS contact times, you should see the faint relexion signal that is marked with 3) in the image below.

We did this ourselves to learn if it is possible with our RTLSDR dongle and what settings we need for the Distributed Ground Station. And this is our result with our very own crappy code. You also see, we increased the amounts of bins...

We are still not sure, what kind of blips we received there. So if you know, post in in the comments below! That would be awesome! We also asked ONERA. The should know, they operate GRAVES :).

More images will be shown in the next log. Happy blips hunting so far!