Project Diana; The Return To The Moon

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Radio amateurs will attempt an Earth-Moon-Earth (EME, or “moonbounce”) transmission on January 10, using the 60 foot diameter TLM-18 dish on the former “Project Diana” site, now part of the InfoAge Science History Museum in New Jersey. This month’s event marks the 70th anniversary of Project Diana. It was on the InfoAge site, then a part of Fort Monmouth, that the US Army’s Project Diana team on January 10, 1946, first received radio signals bounced from the moon.

During the anniversary event, the TLM-18 reactivation team, consisting of volunteers from the museum, the Ocean Monmouth Amateur Radio Club (OMARC), and Princeton University, will transmit on 23 centimeters from the TLM-18 control console in Building 9162, the original TIROS control building.  Building 9162 is adjacent to Building 9116, which houses N2MO, the OMARC club station. The dish offers 35 dBi gain at 465 MHz. The former US Army tracking dish was used as a ground station for the TIROS I and II weather satellites and for Project Vanguard, which led to the launch of Vanguard 1, the second US satellite, in 1958. The dish was demilitarized in the 1970s.

An impromptu pre-event test conducted on January 2 on 1296 MHz from the TLM-18 dish was successful, and the N2MO operators completed a contact with K2UYH.

Daniel Marlow, K2QM, an InfoAge board member who teaches Physics at Princeton, plans to use the dish as a radio telescope to see the 21 centimeter radiation from the Milky Way. But he also wants to observe radio pulsars, and since that activity can be performed at 70 centimeters, the TLM-18 dish is being made available to the Amateur Radio community for EME at 432 MHz on a secondary basis. Project Diana occupied the building housing N2MO.