Radio amateur: DIY Rosetta tracking

The next time you’re accosted by a conspiracy theorist who claims that ‘those space agencies faked reception of Rosetta’s wake-up signal on 20 January…’, just show ’em these!


DSC_0012Amateur radio astronomer Bertrand Pinel, located near Castelnaudary, France, 65km from Toulouse, successfully tracked Rosetta on 21 January at 10:00 UTC using his home-rigged 3.5m dish antenna and radio receiver.

DSC_0015All images credit: B. Pinel

After receiving Rosetta’s X-band signal, he kindly sent in these photos to document his success. He said he was as excited as a kid at Christmas while waiting for his own ‘AOS’ using his (mini) tracking station (Can we call it DSA4? – Ed).

Thank you, Bertrand, for sharing your excellent work!

BTW: Bertrand’s a relative expert at ‘amateur’ radio tracking; he most recently picked up the radio Doppler as ESA’s Mars Express looped past Phobos on 29 December (read and listen via the MEX blog).




  • Viljo Allik says:

    Hello and good luck with the Rosetta project from Tartu Observatory in Estonia!

    We have recently established our own small ground station for mostly educational purposes to get more interested students into space technology. It has only a relatively small 3 m diameter dish antenna, but today morning we were able to detect Rosetta signal in X-band with it. SNR was in the range of 3…5 dB in 1 Hz BW. So it was really exiting to see the signal from such large distance with our very simple receiving station. The elevation of the Rosetta spacecraft at our location was only about 4 degrees during the reception.
    Most of or equipment is a kind of amateur design: home made circular waveguide feed, 0.7 dB NF LNA and a modified NEC microwave link receiver module with LO tuned to 7 GHz.
    There are some waterfall dumps from our SDR receiver software available here:
    We detected signals from other spacecrafts like Gaia and Stereo A/B, too but the signal from Rosetta is the most distant signal we have detected so far.

    Best regards,
    Viljo Allik,
    also a member of Estonian Student Satellite Program Team.

    • Daniel says:

      Hi Viljo, Hi Team: This looks super! Well done… Can you send us some photos of your equipment and maybe one of the team/people involved in this? It would be great to repost here in the blog. Send via daniel – dot – scuka – at – esa – dot – int.

  • BRIERE says:

    Bonsoir, et merci pour vos informations, j’aurais aimé savoir quel était le niveau de réception (en dBm) merci !

    Mes plus cordiales 73’s de Jean F6FQY.

  • José Francisco says:

    Bonsoir Bertrand (F5PL) et mes congratulations pour le Rx de Rosetta Bande X déjá confirmé.
    Nous changerons info plus tard au DSN Group avec les autres membres.
    Cordiales 73 de
    Joseph (CT4AN)

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