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Space agency Nasa thanks Cornish radio club for Jupiter mission Juno spacecraft help

By WBGraeme  |  Posted: May 07, 2014

  • A drawing of the Juno spacecraft. Source: Nasa

  • Members of Poldhu Amateur Radio Club, Cliff Malcolm, Keith Matthew, Les Jones and Dave Usher.

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THE amateur radio club at Poldhu, near Mullion, has been personally thanked by Nasa after its Morse code broadcast was picked up by the agency’s latest space probe.

Transmitting from the same building used by radio pioneer Marconi, the club sent the word ‘hi’ out into space.

It was intercepted by the Juno spacecraft before it began its three-year journey to the planet Jupiter.

This week, the club received a special thank you from the American space agency’s Californian headquarters for its help in calibrating the probe’s sensors.

Poldhu Amateur Radio Club secretary Keith Matthew said: “It’s not every day you get a letter from the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena. We are really thrilled and feel a little bit important.

“It’s nice to think we’ve played a small part in something like this. We’re very pleased to have been thanked for it.”

Juno was launched in 2011 and, last October made a series of close Earth orbits to gain energy, before heading out towards Jupiter.

Radio clubs around the world were invited to transmit the Morse code message for ‘hi’ that could be received by the craft as it passed quickly around the Earth.

The signal was then monitored by engineers at Nasa to check the sensitivity of the on-board receiver.

“It came past us in the evening and it was in range for a couple of hours,” Mr Matthew said.

“We were using our normal equipment, although we have a fairly impressive aerial. We’re based at the Marconi Centre which is owned by the National Trust.

“There are about 50 members in the club and we can relatively easily talk to America. We’re bouncing signals off the ionosphere. We even get as far as New Zealand now and again.”

Juno is now well on its way and is due to go into Jupiter’s orbit on July 4, 2016. It will then complete 33 orbits during one Earth year, collecting scientific data, before being crashed into Jupiter’s atmosphere.

The Marconi Centre at Poldhu Cove is currently open between 1.30pm and 4.30pm on Wednesdays and Sundays.

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