(A Project of the Jupiter Space Station)

II. Introduction

This project explores the radio characteristics of the solar spectrum during solar flare activity. The plan for SASER, Solar Amplification by Stimulated Emission Radiation, is to investigate the effect, if any, that weak, transmitted microwave signals have on the solar radio continuum with the possibility of receiving these signals back on Earth. SASER will attempt to mix or amplify (or some combination) a strong 1 million watt microwave signal with the solar radio continuum and receive signal products back on Earth. This has been a collaborative project to include amateur radio astronomers, ham radio operators, and such governmental agencies as the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the US Air Force Space Weather Group, and the Space Environment Center (SEC).

This project was originally developed from an interest in the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) work having been conducted by NASA and Harvard beginning in 1960 with Frank Drake (Project OZMA) and continuing with present programs including BETA (Billion-channel Extraterrestrial Assay) at Harvard and SERENDIP at UC-Berkeley (McDonough, 1996).

The premise for this project is to explore different ways of communicating outside of our solar system using natural, possibly serendipitous, methods of transmitting information to planets in nearby star systems; and correspondingly to test a different strategy for receiving information from our local galactic neighborhood.

The underlying concept is to take advantage of the gigawatt/hertz continuum of the solar system (dominated by the sun) which we will presume has the natural physics to mix and amplify a low power microwave signal and then re-radiate the combined signal in the megawatt domain. We will use the radio spectral emission model proposed by Wild, Smerd, and Weiss in 1963 (Wild, 1963) and described in concert with solar flares by John Kraus in 1986 (Kraus, 1986). The project will monitor the sunspot cycle and the occurrence of solar flares on the sun.

If the hypothesis and underlying premises of the SASER project are proven valid by this experiment then the following ramifications and paradigms are clear:

The current literature and dogma, as of the date of this proposal, suggests the speculative nature of this project. The project team believes the current ideas and beliefs about solar phenomena are changing. The current Global Oscillation Network Group (GONG) studies, the current Ulysses solar probe, and several other solar projects that are exploratory in nature, have and will continue to alter established solar theories.

This project raises many interesting questions. Can any aspect of the sun be altered by earth-based radio emissions? Using Digital Signal Processing (DSP) techniques, what can be learned by analysis of solar radio continuum? Can the technical challenges of microwave transmission and weak signal reception be enhanced with computer processing? We are certain to uncover more questions as the project evolves.

Our original plan was to set up a US network (up to five) of experienced operators and follow an experimental protocol to monitor, transmit, and receive microwave signals interacting with a solar flare continuum shock wave or the underlying cavity which generates Type IV radio spectral emission. Type IV solar emissions are usually preceded with an early X ray burst. Solar flare and radio spectral monitoring, as well as bringing radio telescopes automatically online, will be done using equipment networked with the Internet and the NOAA GOES 10/12 satellites.

Based on EME experimentation we have modified this plan to solicit the use of the earth based planetary mapping transmitter at Arecibo to transmit the signal for us for three reasons: first, the transmission quality is spectrally excellent, second, it has the necessary wattage to guarantee a significant impact on a flare cavity, and third, it supports several modulation modes including CW spectrometry. All that remains is to bring online the receiving stations to look into the solar noise for the original transmitted signal products using DSP techniques. The software has already been developed and implemented to link the receiving Downlink Stations to the X ray detector on the GOES 10 satellite via the internet.

A software and hardware vehicle known as the Jupiter Space Station (JSS) is the principal facility for staging this project and it is fully computerized; originally it had a steerable 10' dish, has now a 12' dish, and is presently being upgraded to a 24' dish. The JSS receiving systems includes an array of feed horns and downconverters from 1.42 to 12.2 GHz as well as a solar flux monitoring system and a live X ray monitoring capability.

The entrance requirement for participating with this project will be: receiving weak signals from space at 2 - 2.5 GHz or 0 - 500 MHz. This will be a major entrance requirement for the five selected networked Downlink Stations.

Configuration diagrams for the  original JSS 1296 MHz system can be seen in Figure 1 below. Finally, ESE is defined as Earth-Sun-Earth re-radiation, and should not be confused with actually reflecting signals off of a surface as done with Earth-Moon-Earth (EME) bounce.


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