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NATURAL VLF RADIO

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)

What are VLF emissions?

VLF stands for very low frequency. VLF signals are in the frequency range from 0 to 20 kilohertz.

How was the INSPIRE project created?
In 1991, a NASA Space Shuttle experiment involving VLF radio signals was scheduled to fly on a mission in the spring of 1992. The radio signals would come from a pulsed electron gun firing from the payload bay of the shuttle. There was a possibility that the VLF signals could be detected by receivers on the surface of the Earth. NASA needed a large number of radio receivers spread out over a very large area in order to have a chance of detecting the signal. Dr. Bill Taylor, a NASA scientist, suggested that high schools be asked to see if they would like to participate. Information was sent out to 10,000 high schools in the United States and over 1,000 ordered receiver kits. This was the start of The INSPIRE Project. Since 1992, INSPIRE has conducted observations of natural VLF during the 1994 solar eclipse and is currently conducting observations trying to detect signals from an electron gun carried on board the Space Station MIR.

How do I participate in INSPIRE?
The INSPIRE Project uses build-it-yourself kits to measure and record VLF emissions such as tweeks, whistlers, sferics, and chorus along with man-made emissions. There is a great deal of scientific curiosity about the nature and generation mechanisms of natural VLF radio emissions and how they interact with the near-Earth space environment. The INSPIRE Project is taking an active role in furthering the investigation of VLF emissions. This is important because the answers are not fully understood at this time. INSPIRE represents a rare opportunity to work with real space scientists on real scientific problems.

What are the best observing conditions?
The best conditions are on open ground at least 500 meters from any type of power lines. If you are close to power lines, you will hear an annoying 60 cycle hum. The first time you test the kit out you should set up near power lines and you will hear this hum. This test will show you two things: first that your receiver is working and, second, what you want to avoid as you search for a good observing site. It may be difficult to find a site free from power line hum, but if you find a site where the hum level is low you will be able to hear natural radio easily.

What am I listening for?
You are listening for sferics, tweeks, whistlers, chorus, triggered emissions and manmade.
For complete descriptions including audio, click here>

For more information, please contact Info@TheINSPIREProject.org

 


The INSPIRE Project, Inc.
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