The JOVE Bulletin

small logosmall logo The newsletter of NASA's Radio JOVE Project
"Planetary Radio Astronomy for Schools"

DECEMBER 2004 ISSUE - Leonard N. Garcia (QSS Group, Inc.), Editor

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The opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Radio JOVE, or NASA.


  1. Jupiter 2004/2005 Observing Season
  2. 50 Years of Jupiter Radio Observations: Travels through Space and Time
  3. How Radio JOVE Spent the Summer
  4. Here Comes SSREK!
  5. John Kraus Passes into the Cosmos at Age 94
  6. Observatory Report: Windward Community College Radio Observatory
  7. Observatory Report: University of Florida Radio Observatory
  8. Latest versions of Radio JOVE software
  9. Useful web sites for Radio JOVE
  10. Radio JOVE at a Glance

Jupiter 2004/2005 Observing Season
by Chuck Higgins (Middle Tennessee State University)

Welcome back Jupiter! The 2004-2005 Jupiter observing season is here! The Jupiter observing season begins about December 1, 2004 and ends about June 30, 2005.

Our new prediction tables are completed for the continental U.S.,and for central Europe (thanks to Ruggero Ulivastro in Nice, France). They are available on the Radio JOVE web site To make your own prediction tables in your time zone, please use the wonderful prediction software from Jim Sky called Radio-Jupiter Pro. See all his software at

We hope many of you will join us to observe Jupiter with your own radio telescopes. Stay tuned for updates about coordinated observing sessions where many observers can chat online and on the phone during high-probability Jupiter storms.

Great Observing!

50 Years of Jupiter Radio Observations: Travels through Space and Time
by Leonard Garcia (QSS Group, Inc.)

On April 6, 1955, Bernard Burke and Kenneth Franklin, radio astronomers at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism of the Carnegie Institution of Washington announced that they had detected radio emissions from the planet Jupiter. This discovery effectively marks the birth of the field of planetary radio astronomy (for more details read, "The Discovery of Jupiter's Radio Emissions"). Fifty years later, research in this field continues using data both from ground-based observatories and from spacecraft. The spacecraft data in particular has enabled us to study the unique magnetic and plasma environments of all of the solar system's giant planets.

This past August a group of us (Jim Thieman, Chuck Higgins, Bill Pine, Kazumasa Imai, Jay Friedlander, Max Kepler, and myself) took a field trip to visit the site of Burke and Franklin's Mills Cross Array, the instrument they used in the discovery of Jupiter's radio emissions. We brought maps and copies of old photographs. From these we had pieced together clues to tell us where this array had been at what is now a vast wildlife management area along the north shore of the Potomac river. We walked along a trail past woods which hadn't existed in the old photos and past fields of soybeans, corn and sunflowers. Based on our best guesses we arrived at what we estimated to have been one corner of the array.

Had we been here fifty years earlier we would have seen from this point two parallel lines of posts with wire stretched between them and transmission lines running back to an old Army surplus truck in the distance. Now all we saw were tall trees, dense underbrush and further off a field of soybeans. We knew that only a few years after their discovery most of the array had been disassembled but we had hoped we could still find some evidence of what had been here before despite 50 years of growth, decay, plowing and harvesting. We found no evidence of this array remaining.

A view along one arm of the Mills Cross Array used to discover Jupiter's radio emissions. Photo courtesy of the Archives of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. Date unknown but probably sometime in 1954.

Photo of the discovery site today
A representative view of the site 50 years later.

We didn't leave there completely empty-handed. We took back lots of pictures and one short segment of an old piece of twin-lead cable, no proof of a vast array of dipoles but still something. Soon after this trip I submitted an application to the state of Maryland to officially recognize this site with a roadside historic marker [The application has now been accepted - Ed.]. This is still the discovery site after all, with or without dipoles.

This Jupiter season you may want to think not only about Jupiter's powerful magnetic field generating bursts of radio waves but also about the 5 decades of study on the mysteries of these radio emissions. It began by chance on an obscure farm field in Maryland back in 1955.

How Radio JOVE Spent the Summer
by Jim Thieman (NASA's GSFC)

Perhaps some of the students reading this newsletter had to report on their summer as they started back in school. It seems only fair that the Radio JOVE staff should do the same. So here are the highlights of how the folks associated with Radio JOVE at Goddard Space Flight Center spent their summer.

Bill Pine, our dedicated kit distributor and full time high school physics instructor from Ontario California came to Goddard for the summer as he has done every summer for quite a few years. Bill helps with the education and outreach aspects for the IMAGE satellite, but he also finds time to help improve the educational aspects of Radio JOVE as well. He and Albie Davison teamed up to acquaint a group of teachers with Radio JOVE during their summer workshop at the Green Bank National Radio Astronomy Observatory sponsored by the Living With a Star Education Group.

We were also privileged to again have Chuck Higgins visiting Goddard as a summer faculty fellow. Chuck is a co-founder of Radio JOVE and is an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Chuck did many things for Radio JOVE during the summer some of which will be described below. Chuck was involved in nearly all of the things described in this article.

Our colleague from the Kochi National College of Technology in Japan Kazumasa Imai usually visits both the University of Florida Radio Observatory (UFRO) and our Goddard group during the summer. During his two-week visit we learned a lot about his theory of the origin of the modulation lanes in Jovian radio emission. You may also know Kazu's work from the web browser access to the UFRO TP radio telescope (see Kazu also joined several of us on an expedition to the discovery site of Jupiter's radio emissions (see the previous article).

We were again lucky to have one of the NASA Academy students work with us for the summer on Radio JOVE. Joleen Miller helped us analyze archived Jupiter data by making it possible to use Interactive Data Language (IDL) tools on the data. She also gave presentations, analyzed modulation lanes, and helped determine the effectiveness of some of our educational materials.

This summer we had the opportunity to connect one of our JOVE radio receivers to a test antenna for the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) project. This antenna is sensitive over a range of frequencies. We have hopes of making the sounds and data from that receiver available 24/7 thanks to the help of Mahesh Dwivedi, Bill Taylor and Bob Macdowall. This has not quite come to fruition yet, but stay "tuned".

Besides the presentation mentioned above by Bill Pine and Albie Davison there were six other presentations of the Radio JOVE project during the summer in various levels of depth. One was made to a group of college freshmen coming to Goddard to learn about the opportunities in scientific and technical careers that NASA and space science in general has to offer. A presentation was made to the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers to update them on the latest happenings in the Radio JOVE project. We were invited to give a presentation to the StarQuest astronomy interest group meeting at Green Bank, WV so that they might learn about the study of the skies in the radio portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. We presented some of our ideas about how to adapt Radio JOVE for use by visually, aurally, or otherwise disabled persons at the Exceptional Needs Education Workshop in Seattle. Because of the Seattle workshop we were able to present refined ideas to a small group of Special Needs teachers who were meeting at Goddard to get their feedback on our approach. We were very privileged to work with Robert Shelton, a blind mathematics researcher from Johnson Space Center, who helped us on these two projects. Finally, Radio JOVE was presented as a radio-oriented education project during a radio science session at the Western Pacific Geophysics Meeting in Hawaii.

So, I think you can see that the Radio JOVE staff have been busy trying to expand and improve the project for the future. Now we look forward to Jupiter season and having the chance to talk with some of our colleagues again in our coordinated observing telecons.

Happy Observing!!

Here Comes SSREK!
by Leonard Garcia (QSS Group, Inc.)

Several of us involved in Radio Jove have begun work on a new education and public outreach project called the Solar System Radio Explorer Kiosk (SSREK). We are teaming up with the Maryland Science Center and the National Federation of the Blind in Baltimore to develop this new interactive exhibit. The SSREK will teach museum visitors about radio waves from Jupiter and the Sun and what they may be telling us about these worlds. The SSREK will also show that the senses of hearing and touch are viable ways to learn about these emissions. Through the innovative rendering of live and archived radio astronomy data, the SSREK will impart to the public the excitement of scientific discovery and inspire and motivate a new generation to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, especially students that are currently underrepresented in these fields.

The SSREK project has partnered with the National Federation of the Blind to ensure that the SSREK is an engaging and educational resource to museum visitors who are blind. The Maryland Science Center (MSC) will serve as the site for the prototype SSREK and MSC staff will assist in ensuring that the kiosk is well designed for the museum environment.

All construction plans will be available on an associated web site to further extend the reach of this project. Through this web site we will encourage other groups to build their own versions of the SSREK and place them in schools, libraries, museums and maybe even shopping malls. We will keep the Radio Jove teams updated on progress on the SSREK project through the Jove Bulletin.

John Kraus Passes into the Cosmos at Age 94
by Jim Sky (Radio Sky Publishing)

John Kraus was born in 1910 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He was destined to become a very special type of scientist. In those days, radio was a very new technology. When Kraus was a young man, he became enthralled with this seemingly impossible phenomena. He built his own amateur radio station and began contacting others around the world. But John Kraus was not the type to simply copy what others were doing. He experimented with new antennas and early on designed the 8JK beam (named after his callsign), that is still used today. You would no doubt recognize some of his other antenna inventions including the helical beam and corner reflector.

During WWII, Kraus served as a scientist for the U. S. Navy, developing systems to demagnetize ships and thus preventing them from setting off floating mines. After the war, Kraus became intrigued with radio astronomy. His ability to improvise new tools with which to receive radio waves proved especially valuable in this exciting new field of science. Turning down more lucrative positions in industry, he accepted a faculty position at Ohio State University, and there began building his "radio eyes" into the universe. It is important to note that there was no tradition of funding for this research at the mid-western school. Kraus had to find small grants to realize his projects. As a result, John Kraus with the help of his graduate students was often welding steel, pouring concrete, and stringing wire to build his radio telescopes. His was the attitude of a do-it-yourselfer, a trait often lacking in many modern researchers. Ingenuity and hard work were key to his successes. No doubt, some of this derived from his early experiences as an "amateur scientist".

There is much to say about his achievements, but in this short article let me spend my last few sentences pointing out that Kraus was a Jupiter observer! During the 1950s he built several antennas aimed at receiving Jupiter. (He at one time thought he had recorded signals from Venus, but this turned out not to be the case.) Among the antennas was an array of three helices for 27 MHz. Each helix was 24 feet long and 11 feet in diameter. Amazingly, the end helices actually rotated about their long axes, serving to electrically steer the antenna beam. Kraus became interested in the S bursts (which he referred to as "pulses" or "cracks") and tried to decipher their origin.

John Kraus passed away at age 94 on July 18, 2004. He will be missed by all of us who knew him. He would be happy to know that the Jove Project continues to inspire new young scientists around the world, encouraging them to use their own hands while exploring the magic of cosmic radio waves.

Observatory Report: Windward Community College Radio Observatory
by Richard Flagg (Windward Community College)

The Windward Community College Radio Observatory (WCCRO) continues its 24/7 operation, providing real-time SkyPipe, audio, spectrograph and Java data streams to Jove observers. Maintenance work undertaken during the last several months includes reformatting one computer harddrive and repair of the azimuth rotor used to turn the log-periodic antenna. The repaired rotor was relocated from the top of the tower to the bottom, and a 25 ft long drive shaft was installed connecting the rotor to the antenna. This will make repairs easier if we have rotor problems in the future. Work continues on interfacing the antenna rotors to one of our computers so that the antenna position can be controlled via the Internet.

We continue to have intermittent problems with arcing power lines in the general vicinity of the observatory. Recent heavy rains have helped reduce interference from those lines, at least for the time being. Power line arcing appears as close spaced diagonal lines on the radio spectrograph records.

We are looking forward to the upcoming Jupiter season and invite you to take a look and listen to the data from the WCCRO ( If you have any questions about the observatory or its equipment please contact Richard Flagg at

Observatory Report: University of Florida Radio Observatory
by Francisco Reyes (University of Florida)

Hurricane Damage at UFRO

September 13, 2004

Finally I was able to make the trip to the UFRO last Sunday and take a look at the damage done by Frances. Flooding wasn't bad although there is a lot of standing water around the building and the antennas. The mast of one of the LHP TP's was bent at about 2-3 feet from the ground and the whole TP fell to the ground. It appears that all the wires and ropes are OK but there is an aluminum pipe at the top of the head that was bent. I need to remove it and repair it. I lifted the head off the ground and wrapped a couple of plastic bags around it to prevent water going into the head. I'll need to locate and buy another mast; I also need to get a bucket truck to lift the TP once the mast has been replaced. The rest of the TP's look OK. Other slightly damaged things are one of the RJ dipoles which fell and broke the coaxial line, shattering one of the ferrite beads. Also the central (driven) element of WWV antenna was left rotated about 90 degrees from the rest (hey, now we can receive cross polarization!.) Hope Ivan doesn't come even close so we don't get any more damage.

One of the TP Antennas after Hurricane Frances passed over Florida.

October 6, 2004

Last Sunday I went to UFRO to survey the damages from hurricane Jeanne. The TP's didn't suffer any more damage but the 18 polarimetric antenna is down. In summary one TP was down from hurricane Frances and Jeanne took down the 18P. The first priority is to repair the left hand TP; I'll see if we could repair the 18P later.

The 18 MHz polarimeteric antenna after Hurricane Jeanne.

Latest versions of Radio JOVE software

This software may be downloaded from the Radio JOVE software page,

Note: Some newer computers have shown timing problems when using Radio-SkyPipe software. This problem has been fixed in the latest version of Radio-SkyPipe. You can always find the latest version of Radio-SkyPipe by going to

Useful web sites for Radio JOVE

Radio JOVE at a Glance


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