Stardust Space Capsule Re-entry FM scatter 15 Jan '06; Leonids Storm 19 Nov. 02; Leonids Storm 18 Nov. 01

Cropped photo of Stardust Capsule re-entry taken by Earl Wilson of China Lake Astronomical Society. The camera used was a Sony F-707 at f2, exposure time 30 seconds beginning at 0957:30 UT, 15 January 2006, looking north from a location about 20 miles south-east of Lone Pine, California - the trail is seen crossing from Cepheus into Cygnus and then dissappears behind the Inyo Mountains. The star just to the left of the beginning of the trail is SAO 32862, in Cepheus - the elevation of the star was about 4.56 degrees as calculated by "THE SKY" astronomy software (refer to the SKYMAP images below).

The following recording is of FM skip/scatter from the ionized trail of the Stardust Space Capsule, which re-entered over Crescent City, California to land via parachute at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah on 15 January 2006, the re-entry time period being within 0956 to 0959 UT (0156-59 pst). Touchdown onto the ground at the DPG, via parachute, was at 1010 UT.

The re-entry flight path of the Stardust capsule (NASA, with times added by SpM).

Calculated SKYMAP times of reentry track (upper) as well as the sky position track for the Owens Lake area (lower). Great for figuring out where it was when. Courtesy Jim Albers - curator of the Observations Page.

stardust_fmskip_102.1_15jan06_0955z_spmcg.mp3 (2.8 MB)
This (2824KB at 96 kbps MP3 - total time 4:01) recording begins with a WWV time check at 0955 UT, 9 seconds into the file, and runs for about 3 minutes 52 seconds afterwards. Various random meteors are heard as brief bursts of FM station audio.

At 2:23 into the recording (elapsed time), the signal scatter, presumably from Stardust, begins - the time corresponds to 0957:12 UT, which is in the early of the peak heating period of reentry and the best time for viewing the capsule trail from the northern Mojave Desert. The Capsule crosses into northern Nevada from northern California during this recording period.

For approximately one minute, a mixture of FM stations is heard, commencing with a classical format station, which is likely KDFC San Francisco, 33 kW ERP, followed by a station with a brief snippit of a child talking, followed by a station playing a Credence Clearwater Revival tune which fades in and out for about 30 seconds. Weaker FM signals mixing under the stronger stations and activity on adjacent channels create increased white noise and hash. Like most meteor trails, there is back-scatter and side-scatter along with forward-scatter occurring from the ionized Stardust reentry trail. At my location, the Stardust scatter subsided at about 0958:20 UT.

The frequency of 102.1 MHz was clear of any interference in the southern Owens Valley except for a bit of 101.9 Fresno with Mexican format, and 102.3 Victorville with soft rock format, both cause minimal adjacent channel splatter to 102.1, and *only* on very sensitive receiving installations. Occasional aero-scatter brings in brief reception periods of KDFC San Francisco 270 miles distant with a Classical-music format, but this does NOT occur in this recording, though the Classical format is likely San Francisco (KDFC) or Calgary (CBC-2) - I feel it is probably KDFC as Calgary was below the Stardust trail horizon.

The antenna used was a vertically-polarized groundplane up 15 feet above ground, with drooping radials, fed by about 25 feet of quality 75 ohm cable to an Archer preamp, then to a Harmon/Kardon 330B receiver in mono-reception mode. I chose the groundplane antenna over the use of two other yagis because of its omni-directional characteristics for best random meteor reception.

The McGreevy receiving system for 15 Jan. 06 Stardust reentry

Location of reception is Keeler, CA, 36.49N/117.88W, time 0955 - 0958 UT. Again, note the re-entry skip begins at 2:23 into the recording, which corresponds to the time of 0957:12 UT.

It should be noted that at this Keeler, CA location, the Stardust Capsule re-entry path was only about 4.6 degrees above the northern Horizon in Cepheus and Cygnus. As such, all of the direct view of the Stardust space capsule re-entry was blocked by the nearby Inyo Mountain Range, thus the FM-scatter reception was not as strong as would be if my location had been in full view of the re-entry. Had I been at Earl's location about 10 miles to the south, I'd have had even better results, no doubt!

More Observations - STARDUST Reentry Page by Jim Albers

NASA Space Capsule Information

Observations solicited by NASA  :  information below

Leonids Meteor Storm, 19 Nov. 2002

A Leonid I managed to capture on 800 speed film, (Canon AE-1, Kodak ISO 800, 1 minute); Moonlit view of our Centennial Flat viewing site 19 Nov. 2002

On 19 November 2002, the second year of a Leonids Meteor Storm, (the best being in '01), Earl Wilson and I journeyed to Centennial Flat, 30 miles to the south-east of Lone Pine, California (36.32N/117.73W) to view and record on film, videotape, and audio, this incredible event.

I monitored 102.1 MHz on a sensitive Audiovox car radio in my camper-van connected to the van-antenna about 40 inches in length, adjusted for optimum reception match for this radio and the location of the van-antenna.

The result is quite incredible - an almost constant pinging and bursting of FM-station receptions, with occasional "super bursts" of longer duration, all with the characteristic fluttery fading of Meteor scatter! (warning - file is over 11 MB / 23 minutes in duration). This LONG audio-file also begins with a 1027-1028 UT WWV time check and some chat (me) for the first minute.

leonids102.1mhz_fm_ms_shower_peak_1028ut_19nov02_inyo.mp3 (11 MB)

Desert beauty in the moonlight and at dawn, 19 Nov. '02

Leonids Meteor Storm FM Scatter 18 Nov. 2001

The best of the Leonids storm was on 18 Nov. 2001 at about 0230 pst/1030UT. These are more dial-up access-friendly files made of FM reception from 2001. The two files are of 102.1 MHz from the same car radio as the above 2002 storm, the shorter file is a KDFC San Francisco ID received from a meteor trail - recorded at Santa Rosa Flat - 8 mi/13 km north of the 19 Nov. 2002 recording site.

leonids_1040z_18nov01_102.1mhz_spmcg.mp3 (1.8 MB)

leonids_1044z_18nov01_102.1mhz_kdfc_id.mp3 (124 kb)


Stephen P. McGreevy, N6NKS, 22 January 2006

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