Three DSES members judge at 2019 Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair

Deep Space Exploration Society members Bill Miller, Gary Agranat, and Tony Bigbee participated as judges at the 2019 Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair. The Fair was held at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs University Center building on Saturday February 23rd.  This year 115 students from 20 schools presented projects. The purpose of the fair is to encourage students to take more active interest in the study of science and mathematics, to encourage experiment and consideration of science careers, and to provide a means of reward and recognition.  Informally the fair gives students an opportunity to interact with and get helpful feedback from specialists already in the fields.

Bill and Gary were at the science fair to judge and award prizes specifically offered by DSES. The prizes were offered to encourage projects related to astronomy and radio.  However any outstanding STEM project related closely enough to the fields were considered.  Bill and Gary interviewed 17 students in 16 projects at the fair, at the middle school and high school levels, with most of the topics in physical sciences or engineering. A scoring criteria was used based on the qualities of the ideas, hypotheses, methods, data, and lessons learned.

DSES awarded one Senior Division prizes and two Junior Division prizes:

For outstanding senior division project we gave a certificate and $100 to Mark Bloomfield. Mark received 6 additional special awards from other organizations, and he placed 3rd in the Fair’s Senior Physical Sciences category.

• Mark Bloomfield [grade 11] [project SC9], Coronado High School/David Bloomfield: ‘‘Charged up: Testing lithium ion battery performance using a Raspberry Pi load cell’’

For the two Junior Division prizes we gave a certificate and $50 each to Hailey Kressen and Benjamin Homan.

• Hailey Kressin [grade8] [project 8E10], The Classical Academy JHS/Candus Muir: ‘‘A sixth sense: Omnidirectional presence detection system’’. Hailey received 6 additional special awards, and she placed 2nd in the Grade 8 Physical Sciences & Engineering category. 

• Benjamin Homan[8] [8E1], Monument Academy/Karl Brown: ‘‘Does pressure affect carbon dioxide absorption by polyethyleneimine?’’ Benjamin received 5 additional special awards, and he placed 4th in the Grade 8 Physical Sciences & Engineering category.

Tony participated as a general Award Judge for the Fair itself. He judged  middle school social and behavioral science projects.

Tony took a few minutes to take some photos.  The first three photos are from when Bill and Gary interviewed Connor Takenaka about his cybersecurity project. The third includes Tony.

Bill is show interviewing Josh Nakka and Katelynn Salmon for their Senior level science project “Engineering a portable refreshable braille device for improved communication.” Gary is interviewing Jenna Salvat for her Senior level science project “A geothermal analysis of metamorphic lithologies surrounding Cripple Creek and Victor Diatreme”.

Projects Bill and Gary interviewed:

  • “Shields Up” by Samantha Cerniglia. She tested the ability of several materials to block cosmic rays. She built a cloud chamber to do the tests.
  • “LED Lights: Hero or Zero” by Michael Wu. He tested energy efficiency savings claims of a set of consumer LED lights, and found those fell short.
  • “Energy Efficiency” by Samantha Schaefer. She tested the effects of placing different colored filters on solar energy panels.
  • “This Will Blow You Away” by Levi Archambault. He tested the efficiency of windmills with different number of blades, with different wind speed conditions.
  • “Prevent Basement Floods” by Austin Cellar.  He designed and tested a low cost device to detect basement water leaks and flooding, and send an alarm.
  • “Cleaning glasses with portable ultrasonics” by Ty Rockey. He researched, designed, and tested a low cost device to clean eye glasses using water cavitation.
  • “Does Pressure Affect Carbon Dioxide Absorption by Polyethyleneimine (PEI)” by Benjamin Homan. He tested the ability of PEI to absorb carbon dioxide at sea level and 7350 foot elevation pressures.  He utilized previous research by others and theory that predicted lower pressure would result in less absorption, due to fewer number of molecules per volume.  The material would be applicable to CO2 scrubbers in submarines and spacecraft. Benjamin won one of our two Junior Division prizes.
  • “Analyzing how various hydroelectric designs can ameliorate the accessibility of tides” by Chandler Wilburn. He tried to design and test an alternate way to generate electrical power from tides, using a large pressure plate instead of flow past a turbine.
  • “Neodymium field slide” by Amir Laarja. He tested different position configurations of magnets in a generator, to test differences in efficiency.
  • “A sixth sense: Omni-directional presence detection system” by Hailey Kressin.  She designed and tested a system to detect the presence of approaching objects within 1.5 meters in 1 second, to aid people who are blind. Hailey won one of our two Junior Division prizes.
  • “Cybersecurity: Defending our Computers” by Connor Takenaka. He tested the effectiveness of different length and complexity passwords to prevent or delay hacking.
  • “Variable scintillation frequency in muon detection” by Xander Duvall.
  • “Using Solar Radiation” by Erick Lopez.  He tested the effectiveness of several designs for homes to retain heat from solar heating.
  • “Engineering a portable low-cost braille device for improved communication” by Josh Nakka and Katelynn Salmon.
  • “A geothermal analysis of metamorphic lithologies surrounding the Cripple Creek and Victor diatreme” by Jenna Salvat.
  • “Charged up: Testing lithium ion battery performance using a Raspberry Pi load cell” by Mark Bloomfield.  He developed a Raspberry Pi constant load cell to test how temperature, drain rate, and charging patterns affected energy recovered in charging.  Mark won our Senior Division Prize.

Bill presented the DSES awards at the science fair awards ceremony on the following Tuesday, February 26th.

The Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair created this nice video about the activities and the students in the science fair:
2019 Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair [].


Results of December 2018 Observing Trip

Dr. Richard Russel put together this slide set about the latest results from this month’s observing.  Contents:

  • Galactic Rotation Rate Results
  • Earth’s Position in Solar System
  • Complete HI spectrum Measurements from all observing trips

Dr. Russel is now utilizing Doppler shift measurements, and hence velocity, to also estimate the Earth’s position in the Solar System.

DSES Observation Trip December 2018 [Click to open the pptx slide show file.]

Observations using the 60-foot Dish during the Open House, August 11, 2018

Editor’s note: During the DSES Open House on the weekend of August 11, 2018, three receiver systems were tested on the 60-foot dish antenna. Dr. Richard Russel reports on their successful results, and he shows what we see in our data plots. Some highlights to point out:

  1. The Spectracyber definitively observed the neutral hydrogen of the Milky Way as the beam width completely crossed the galactic plane.
  2. The RASDR4 observed a known neutral hydrogen radio source, which has a closer cloud along the line of sight that absorbs some of the hydrogen signal. The distinctive signal feature is known from published data by the Parkes Radio Observatory in Australia.
  3. The RASDR2 detected a 1296 MHz beacon set up at the home of a member about 80 miles away.  This is our first definitive detection of a beacon at 1296 MHz.

-Gary Agranat, website editor.


Open House Observations using the 60-foot Dish Antenna

The DSES and Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers (SARA) teams installed three different receivers onto the 60-foot dish during the open house.


Successful Installation and Testing of the DSES Spectracyber Neutral Hydrogen Receiver.

The Spectracyber was installed on the 60-foot dish during the DSES Open House on August 11, 2018.

The Spectracyber measures 1420.406 MHz +- 600 KHz. The observation was taken while passing the galactic plane at RA: 19hr 5 Min, Dec: 6 degrees 0 Min.

The observation shows a significant signal to noise ratio as seen below.

Follow-on observations will allow for measurement of the rotation rate of the Milky Way and Solar System!


RASDR4 Receiver Successful Observation of Hydrogen Absorption Line

Tony Bigbee used his RASDR4 on the 60-foot dish to observe this hydrogen absorption line at RA: 18.15hrs, Dec:-20 deg.

This target is a hydrogen source with a cloud of material between the source and Earth that absorbs the hydrogen energy resulting in a drop off of signal as shown below.

1296 MHz Beacon Observation using a RASDR2

Bogdan Vacaliuc installed a RASDR2 onto the 60-foot dish and was able to observe the 1296 MHZ beacon at Ray Uberecken’s house, about 80 statute miles distance to the west-northwest. This observation helped verify the azimuth pointing accuracy of the 60-foot dish.


DSES SuperSID Radio Telescope — September 2017 Significant Solar Events Observed

DSES SuperSID Radio Telescope

September 2017 Significant Solar Events Observed

The DSES Sudden Ionospheric Disturbance Monitor (SID) detected in September several major solar eruptions – M and X Class Flares. Below are shown graphs of the data from four particular days.

The DSES SID instrument is located in Colorado Springs.  It works by listening for a US Navy beacon station in North Dakota, call sign NML,  transmitting on the Very Low Frequency (VLF) of 25 KHz.  During the day, the D Layer of the ionosphere forms at lower altitudes and attenuates the VLF signal.  But during solar flares, VLF signals can more easily pass through the D Layer, and they then get bounced back to the ground from the higher F Layer.  The more the solar flare activity affecting our ionosphere, the better the VLF signal from NML propagates to us.

Strong solar flare events show a characteristic spike, and then a “shark tail” as the ionosphere recovers.

At night, the D Layer dissipates, and then the signal from NML usually easily reaches the receiver.  At local sunrise, at about 1200 UTC, you can see the effect of the D Layer forming with the sudden drop in reception.

You can see evidence that the F Layer is influenced by the solar flares as well.  Notice during the X 8.2 Flare on September 10 that the incoming signal becomes even stronger than during normal propagation at night.

The bottom axis of each graph is Greenwich (UTC) Time.  The vertical axis shows the received energy.  Individual flare events are identified and annotated in green.  Some events occurred during local night.

Observations were made by Dr. Richard Russel.

September 4, 2017 – M Class Flares


September 6, 2017 – M Class Flares



September 7, 2017 – X 1.3 Class Flare


September 10, 2017 – X 8.2 Flare

Deep Space Exploration Society (DSES) SuperSID station measures the August 20, 2017 Solar Eclipse!

Deep Space Exploration Society (DSES) SuperSID station measures the August 20, 2017 Solar Eclipse!

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DSES President Dr. Richard Russel has been measuring signal strengths 0f stations in the Very Low Frequency (VLF) band for the past year, looking for changes in ionospheric propagation due to solar flares. He uses a Sudden Ionospheric Disturbance (SID) monitor small radio telescope.  His SID detector is located in Colorado Springs, CO. The measurements are sensitive to the changes in radio propagation at sunrise and sunset.

With his baseline of historical data at sunrise and sunset, he then predicted what could be expected during the August 20, 2017 solar eclipse. He presented his prediction work at the 2017 Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers Annual Conference at NRAO Greenbank, WV on July 25, 2017. His paper was titled, “Ionospheric Reflection Variation During Sunrise and Sunset and Predictions for the 2017 Total Eclipse”.

During the eclipse he made measurements, and found the results matched closely with his predictions. The link presents a summary of his work. Plus it has YouTube links to this and another of his talks at the SARA conference. The second talk is titled, The Use of Monte-Carlo Analysis to Evaluate Radio Astronomy Source Detection”.

Also see this Daily Mail article, NASA Scientists to Study the Ionosphere During the Eclipse (August 10, 2017).