Satellite Image Eavesdropping: A Multidisciplinary Science Education Project


Amateur reception of satellite images gathers a wide number of concepts and technologies which makes it attractive as an educational tool. We here introduce the reception of images emitted from NOAA series low-altitude Earth-orbiting satellites. We tackle various issues including the identification and prediction of the pass time of visible satellites, building of the radio-frequency receiver and the antenna after modelling its radiation pattern, and then demodulating the resulting audio signal for finally displaying an image of the Earth as seen from space.

1. Introduction

Low Earth-orbiting weather satellites continuously transmit radio-frequency signals encoding images of the Earth as seen from space. We describe here the successive steps for receiving these images, including • a presentation of the various kinds of satellites that can be listened at,
• the characteristics of their orbits and the calculation of consequent visibility duration over a given point on Earth (i.e., the time we have to get the image) as well as of the pass dates and times (i.e.,

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