A group of German amateur radio hobbyists has successfully bounced a radio signal off the planet Venus, over 31 million miles (50 million km) away, and received it back on Earth (Earth-Venus-Earth = EVE). Peter Guelzow (DB2OS), President of AMSAT-DL, writes:
On March 25th, 2009, a team from the German space organisation AMSAT-DL reached another milestone on its way to its own interplanetary probe towards planet Mars.
The ground station at the Bochum observatory transmitted radio signals to Venus. After traveling almost 100 million kilometers, and a round trip delay of about 5 minutes, they were clearly received as echoes from the surface of Venus.
Receiving these planetary echoes is a first for Germany and Europe. In addition, this is the farthest distance crossed by radio amateurs, over 100 times further than echoes from the moon (EME reflections).
For receiving the EVE signals, an FFT analysis with an integration time of 5 minutes was used. After integrating for 2 minutes only, the reflected signals were clearly visible in the display. Despite the bad weather, signals from Venus could be detected from 1038UT until the planet reached the local horizon.
The 2.4 GHz high power amplifier used for this achievement is described in the current AMSAT-DL journal.
This represented a crucial test for a final key component of the planned P5-A Mars mission. By receiving echoes from Venus, the ground and command station for the Mars probe has been cleared for operational use and the AMSAT team is now gearing up for building the P5-A space probe.
For financing the actual construction and launch, AMSAT-DL is currently
in negotiation with the DLR (Deutsches Zentrum fÃ¼r Luft- und Raumfahrt) amongst others, to obtain financial support for the remaining budget of 20 Mil Euros.
AMSAT-DL wants to show that low-cost interplanetary exploration is possible with its approach.