Pulling data directly from satellites

edited March 2017 in Everything else
So over the past few months, I've been working on a cool project. Using a relatively cheap software defined radio (a hackrf in this case), me and a friend managed to pull images directly off of weather satellites as they passed overhead. We built a bunch of different antennas to figure out which works the best and we're still testing new designs. We managed to pull from NOAA 15, 18 and 19 as well as METEOR M2. The images we pulled can be found HERE and I made a video showing the whole process HERE

Now, that was cool on it's own, but the stuff we dug up while researching this, and some of our next targets are where things get really cool. See, those satellites don't just broadcast images. They also broadcast what's called telemetry data. This is information about the space craft, sure, but it's also a ton of science data. Radiation levels, all sorts of weird sensors, and the gps locations of all sorts of tagged stuff (arctic foxes, weather balloons etc) in the area. And that's just with these 4 satellites. Other satellites broadcast all kinds of other interesting stuff. For example, the GOES satellites (one of our next targets) is in geosynchronous orbit so it can see the whole planet at once and has even more tech on board. Or there's another satellite in geosynch orbit that sends maritime alerts. Things like "such and such a ship has been taken over by pirates" or "major storm incoming". Finally there's stuff like outernet that is a sort of space based internet. it's satellites broadcast 20 mb of data per day every day all day. And you can submit stuff to their website to have added to the stuff that gets broadcast.

I bring all this up because it represents a treasure trove of ideas for new projects. If nothing else, the data from something like goes would be amazing to work into a set of AR glasses. Or maybe a wearable that syncs to a base station back home that's receiving the transmissions, and keeps you updated on the locations of artic foxes. I dunno, the worlds our oyster on this one so I figured I'd let ya'll know. Maybe you guys have some ideas


  • Finally, my need to have real time info on arctic foxes can be satisfied!!

    But seriously, It would be super cool to have that on a screen set up on the wall somewhere as a sort of art piece. Migration patterns and all that.

    I wonder if the RF data could be an indicator for an oncoming solar storm.
  • Relevant CCC presentation on tracking LEO satellites.

    As for antennas, helical antennas are not uncommon. And of course satellite dish antennas (yeah no surprise there i know) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite_dish
  • WOW.  I tried to pick up the weather satellites many years ago using a scanner but never actually got images from them.  I did hear them going over though.

    I didn't realize how important the antenna was and had no idea that they broadcast anything besides the weather pics.

    There's lots of other stuff flying around above us.  I've only seen it one time but it's possible to SEE the International Space Station as it passes over.  I want to catch it again when I have a pair of binoculars to see it even better.

    Thanks for sharing. 

    P.S.  A ham radio license will let you LEGALLY talk to the astronauts or use satellites to talk to other hams.  Even moon bounce.  I never done any of this but seen others do it.
  • edited March 2017
    Hadn't heard of a moon bounce but you can bet it's on the list now! I really want to get my ham license now. I'd love to try and talk to an astronaut. That said, even just receiving has been amazing. If I can get GOES, I'll be overjoyed. 

    I've actually seen the space station a few times. Once was during a meteor shower. It was pretty spectacular.  

    As to the solar storm idea there's a bunch of options. Either you pull from a satellite that monitors the sun (GOES, NOAA 19 and a few others do this and are reasonably accesible), or you watch the signal from a powerful and continuous beacon far enough away that the signal has to bounce of the ionosphere. We did it back in highschool and saw the spikes of solar flares. Was pretty cool, though was way too angsty to appreciate it back then. I'd love to have a version of that seismic implant that does solar flare activity
  • I can't wait to see your video on ham radios.
  • Hey, they do the ham radio licensure at defcon. I'll commit to doing it next year.
  • I'd recommend anyone with an interest in ham radio to get their license.  They dropped the morse code requirement so it is just a written exam now.  Once you have the license, you only have to renew it every 10 years and there isn't any extra fees to do that.

    There are online practice exams you can use to get ready for the test so it should be fairly easy to be sure you will pass before you take the test.

    I have had my license for almost 16 years now.  I haven't been active for many years but might someday get back into it.  I upgraded my license right before they dropped the morse code requirement but never did anything except 2 meter FM which the Technician class allows.

  • It looks like I might be going to defcon, so if I do, I'll totally do it then. 
  • Although you don't need Morse code for ham licensure.. I think it would be cool to learn. That would be ultra simple to implement as an implant interface
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