Signals from Outer Space

Byl I
POI Official Use (Jilty 1
(b)(3)-P.L.86-36
The radio signals transmitted by Sputniks I and II have been studied by
various and diverse groups. The general assumption that these signals
must contain the greater part of the intelligence to be acquired from such
space satellites is not necessarily true. This article attempts to point out
methods of data acquisition by other than telemetry techniques, without
minimizing the possibility of telemetry on either the observed frequencies
or frequencies not as yet demonstrated as emanating from the Sputniks.
The hand-keyed dots and dashes came in loud and clear-just a few
groups off-and-on for three days-then they ceased, although opera-
tors, both amateur and commercial, sought to intercept them for
weeks without success. Since these signals were received with about
the same intensity at the various intercept points, the conclusion was
quickly reached that they originated in outer space. A second factor
that added substance to this theory was that the various combinations
of dots and dashes could not be related to any known code.
Due to its proximity to earth at that time (1924), the planet Mars
was given the credit for trying to establish a radio communications
circuit with us.
Many receiving systems were modified to reach the radio spec-
trum-miles of magnet wire were wound on cardboard cylinders for
use as loading coils, and unused sections of telephone lines were press-
ed into use as long-wave antennas. A high-powered transmitter sent
out the call letters MARS at regular intervals over a period of several
days. The French government developed grand plans for a battery of
mirrors to be installed in the Sahara Desert for visual signaling. But
lack of any identifiable response from Mars brought an end to further
attempts by Earth to cooperate in a Mars-Earth communication link.
A generation or two later (4 Oct 1957), a third-stage rocket nosed
over into a prescribed trajectory and delivered the final thrust neces-
sary to launch an earth satellite into orbit. In rapid sequence the
nose-cone separated from the rocket, thus releasing the 184-pound
satellite to go hurtling around the earth at five miles per second; the
swiveled antennas, freed by the jettisoned nose section, snapped back
into position; the first space radio communication station was ready
for operation-and began transmitting the now highly publicized beep-
beep of Sputnik I.
1 This information is to be controlled because it is based on material not released
by a cognizant organization.
77
SIGNALS FROM OUTER SPACE
Then, one month later, Sputnik II, weighing approximately 1100
pounds and purportedly containing both a live dog and extensive in-
strumentation, was successfully launched into orbit as the second earth
satellite; and it too radiated radio signals for all to hear on the same
frequencies as had Sputnik I (20.005 and 40.002 megacycles per sec-
ond).
A brief review of the potential uses of earth satellites such as the
Sputniks and our own satellites (Explorer and Vanguard) may aid us in
estimating what intelligence mayor may not be contained in the Sput-
nik Signals.
Our earth satellites, when properly instrumented, permit the follow-
ing scientific objectives to be realized:
(a) Determination of outer atmospheric densities, (b) acquisition of
geodetic data on the Earth's equatorial radius and oblateness, (c) long-
term observations of solar ultraviolet radiation, (d) studies of the in-
tensities of cosmic and other particle radiations impinging on the at-
mosphere, (e) determination of the density of hydrogen atoms and ions
in interplanetary space, (f) observations of the Stormer current ring,
(g) germination of the variations of mass in the Earth's crust under
the orbital track, (h) observations of global meteorological conditions,
(i) studies of radio wave propagation through the ionosphere, and (j)
studies on the effect of meteor trails on radio wave propagation in the
absence of the ionosphere.
The military potential of an earth satellite parallels that for the
scientific field, with additional uses for surveillance and radio relay.
With the above points in mind, certain assessments of the intelli-
gence to be gained from the signals from Sputniks I and II may be
made. The first is the obvious one: that the rocketry program of the
USSR had resulted in successfully launching into orbit the first instru-
mented man-made earth satellite. Other conclusions are not as easily
deduced and fall into three groups: (a) those deduced from the be-
havior of the satellite itself, (b) those derived from the behavior of the
radio signals without regard to message content, and (c) those result-
ing from analysis of the signals as to message content.
As to the first category: the formulae for phenomena controlling or-
biting satellites have been developed to a high degree and any observed
deviations from these formulae by a satellite in orbit may be ascribed
to variations in such phenomena. Thus a deviation from the calcu-
lated path was expected, and noted, when Sputnik I passed over large
geological upthrusts such as our own Rocky Mountains. Other path
deviations have been ascribed to errors in geodetic data as to the
Earth's equatorial radius and oblateness. Slow deviations, particu-
larly in velocity, have been explained by density of ions, cosmic dust,
(b)(3)-P. L. 86-36
or other matter giving rise to "air drag" on the satellite. The density
of microscopic meteoric particles may be measured by using a polished
surface on the satellite and optically measuring from a ground station
the dulling of the surface. Collision with a large meteor has evidently
not occurred, since such a collision would result in either destruction
of the satellite or significant orbital deviation.
As to the behavior of radio signals: a great deal of information has
been collected about the path of propagation of the electro-magnetic
radiations from Sputniks I and II. The spatial relationship between
an Earth intercept site and the satellite can be calculated to a high
degree of accuracy for any point in time, but opportunities for studies
on radio wave propagation were lost to us by lack of preparation for
observations on the radio frequencies used in Sputniks I and II. Par-
ticular observations have been made on certain long range intercepts,
the explanations for which are in consonance with current theories of
ionic rivers, jet streams, and tides in the ionosphere which give rise to
"hot areas" capable of supporting long-haul radio communication cir-
cuits along specific bearings. Meteor trails above the orbital path
would also give rise to observable variations in the characteristics of
the received signal. There is every indication that the scientists of
the U. S. S. R. have taken advantage of this opportunity to study the be-
havior of radio waves on a one-way pass through the ionospheric cur-
tain above us. The choice of frequencies for the Sputniks was one
favorable for such studies.
An inquiry as to what information may be contained in the compo-
sition of the signals does not proceed far before the following question
arises: "What corroborative data do we have as to environmental con-
ditions within and without Sputniks I and II at the time any partic-
ular sequence of signals was emitted?" We are aided in this direc-
tion by noting that all of the instrumentation proposed for Vanguard
could have been contained in Sputnik I and much more in Sputnik II
and the measurements planned for Vanguard could have been pro-
grammed in the Sputniks just as, to a limited extent, they have been
successfully programmed in Explorer.
Transmissions identified as having originated from Sputniks I and II
were characterized by the following features: bauds of variable length,
amplitude modulation, bursts of frequency-modulation, sawtooth effect
(FM), and amplitude variation in off-carrier backwave and full carrier
conditions.
Signal characteristics observed on 20.005 and 40.002 megacycles
could have supported the transmission of data. Evidences of high-
speed complex telemetry were not observed. Unexplained variations
78
79
SIGNALS FROM OUTER SPACE
(b}(3}-P.L.86-36
I
N ORDER to make Sputnik I signals perceptible to the ear, they first had to
be translated into a suitable frequency and amplitude, since the frequencies of
transmission (20 and 40 MCS) were considerably above the audio range, and the
amplitude, after a trip to the earth from outer space, was extremely low.
Special antennas, cut to an optimum length for resonance at the transmission
frequency and oriented to the oncoming wave, collected the radiations and directed
them to communications receivers, where they passed progressively through radio-
frequency, intermediate frequency, and audio-frequency stages, and were also suitably
amplified. The resulting signal could then be changed from electromagnetic waves
into sound waves by headphones or loud-speakers.
For purposes of examination and study, however, a visual presentation is obviouslv
preferable. In order for a signal to convey information it must have components
which vary in accordance with the information conveyed, the most natural of these
being frequency, amplitude, and signal-element duration. An oscilloscope furnishes
a characteristic visual pattern, changing from instant to instant as the signal varies,
so that by photographing a series of these patterns and arranging them in order of
occurrence from left to right a permanent record can be set up of the different para-
meters and their variations.
2.
1.
ILLUSTRATION OF BREAKS OR
KEYING TRANSIENTS NOTED AT
»>: MARK

';"""-' ':' . .;. \ 't_.
'lIe m/S
MARK
Fig. 3.
Fig. 4.
On the opposite page, Figs. 1 to 3 are spectrographs of this sort, showing time
horizontally, frequency vertically, and amplitude by the degree of shading. Thus
the dark horizontal lines represent the on time and the spaces between them the off
time. By comparing Figs. 1 and 3 it may be noted that the mark durations are varied
independently of the spacing; i. e., there is no fixed cycle length necessitating an
elongation of the spaces to compensate for a shortening of the marks.
Figs. 1 and 2 illustrate instantaneous variations in frequency, as shown by the
rising and falling pattern of the marks. Fig. 3 shows instantaneous variations of
amplitude within the marks, by the variations in the shades of gray. Fig. 4 illustrates
the Doppler effect; the frequency slowly rising and then falling as the satellite ap-
proaches and recedes from the point (near the horizon) where it is most rapidly
approaching the observer. (The interruption on the right is irrelevant, being caused
by a resetting of the machine.)
In Fig. 5 the graphic recording of the upper half shows amplitude (instead of frequen-
cy) on the vertical scale, and reveals a rhythmic undulation in amplitude fluctuations
over a longer period of time. (The dark area to the right of center is not significant.)
This effect could be due to the rolling of the satellite.
Fig. 5.
(For Ojigi81 Use fJnt'{f)
80
81 lfQr Ojieia;l Use unry)
SIGNALS FROM OUTER SPACE
in signal characteristics suggest data stream transmission, encoding, or
types of emission not yet clearly understood.
The unexplained frequency variations indicate that the signal is
carrying intelligence. It is true that these variations have only ap-
peared on a very small percentage of the tapes, but this is what could
be expected if a transponder telemetering system was being used, and
was occasionally accidentally triggered by noise.
"What data streams?" is of course the question. Cosmic ray meas-
urements are very probable, since radio transmission may be the only
possible method of data transfer. Mapping of cloud formations be-
neath the orbital tracks, by converting the output of photoelectric
cells into digital information, as also density, pressure and temperature
measurements inside the satellite and in the skin of the satellite, could
have been telemetered to supplement the information derived from "air
drop" observations. As to the heartbeat of the dog-only' those pres-
ent when the dog was sealed in can substantiate the claims of the
U. S. S. R. in this regard. The list can be extended to cover meas-
urements of other outer space phenomena. An analysis of the tele-
metry capabilities of the signals cannot be safely made at this time,
since the possibility that techniques such as noise modulation are being
used has not been evaluated.
Therefore, an assessment of the message content of Sputnik signals,
as equated to identifiable phenomena, must be held in abeyance. (At
the moment of writing we know no more as to the message content of
Sputnik signals than we did the first day they were identified as such.)
This statement is in no way intended to imply either that the correla-
tion is impossible or that such a correlation has not been effected.
What is implied is that the various postulated correlations, as found
in the open literature, cannot all be correct and must be treated as
conjectures until such time as the notebooks of the responsible U. S.
S. R. scientists are available, or until much more is known about outer
space conditions, either through the results of our own rocketry pro-
grams or through more precise observations on the orbital behavior of
Sputniks and X-type satellites. Telemetry data from Explorer may
well be the key that will open up the message content of the Sputnik
signals.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Credit for aid in preparation of this article is due to Mr,1 I
I I O f J ~ A ~ F 4 I. ~ Lt
1
./ / IUSAF,
of COLL-2, and ', O.LL-4.•
(b) (3)-P.L. 86-36
- R.esponsive CONFIDENTIAL
82 83 CONFIDENTIAL

The density of microscopic meteoric particles may be measured by using a polished surface on the satellite and optically measuring from a ground station the dulling of the surface.002 megacycles could have supported the transmission of data. The military potential of an earth satellite parallels that for the scientific field. S. As to the behavior of radio signals: a great deal of information has been collected about the path of propagation of the electro-magnetic radiations from Sputniks I and II. and it too radiated radio signals for all to hear on the same frequencies as had Sputnik I (20. Meteor trails above the orbital path would also give rise to observable variations in the characteristics of the received signal. Evidences of highspeed complex telemetry were not observed. (b) those derived from the behavior of the radio signals without regard to message content. permit the following scientific objectives to be realized: (a) Determination of outer atmospheric densities. Signal characteristics observed on 20. have taken advantage of this opportunity to study the behavior of radio waves on a one-way pass through the ionospheric curtain above us. cosmic dust. was successfully launched into orbit as the second earth satellite. with additional uses for surveillance and radio relay. they have been successfully programmed in Explorer. one month later. (b) acquisition of geodetic data on the Earth's equatorial radius and oblateness. amplitude modulation. since such a collision would result in either destruction of the satellite or significant orbital deviation. (h) observations of global meteorological conditions. (i) studies of radio wave propagation through the ionosphere. (g) germination of the variations of mass in the Earth's crust under the orbital track. Unexplained variations 79 . have been explained by density of ions. and tides in the ionosphere which give rise to "hot areas" capable of supporting long-haul radio communication circuits along specific bearings. bursts of frequency-modulation. A brief review of the potential uses of earth satellites such as the Sputniks and our own satellites (Explorer and Vanguard) may aid us in estimating what intelligence mayor may not be contained in the Sputnik Signals. S. (c) longterm observations of solar ultraviolet radiation. Slow deviations. weighing approximately 1100 pounds and purportedly containing both a live dog and extensive instrumentation. (d) studies of the intensities of cosmic and other particle radiations impinging on the atmosphere. 78 or other matter giving rise to "air drag" on the satellite. Thus a deviation from the calculated path was expected. jet streams. when properly instrumented. (f) observations of the Stormer current ring. certain assessments of the intelligence to be gained from the signals from Sputniks I and II may be made. Collision with a large meteor has evidently not occurred. Particular observations have been made on certain long range intercepts. when Sputnik I passed over large geological upthrusts such as our own Rocky Mountains. R. sawtooth effect (FM).005 and 40.005 and 40. The first is the obvious one: that the rocketry program of the USSR had resulted in successfully launching into orbit the first instrumented man-made earth satellite. Other conclusions are not as easily deduced and fall into three groups: (a) those deduced from the behavior of the satellite itself.002 megacycles per second). but opportunities for studies on radio wave propagation were lost to us by lack of preparation for observations on the radio frequencies used in Sputniks I and II. With the above points in mind. There is every indication that the scientists of the U. Other path deviations have been ascribed to errors in geodetic data as to the Earth's equatorial radius and oblateness. The spatial relationship between an Earth intercept site and the satellite can be calculated to a high degree of accuracy for any point in time. The choice of frequencies for the Sputniks was one favorable for such studies. Our earth satellites. particularly in velocity. An inquiry as to what information may be contained in the composition of the signals does not proceed far before the following question arises: "What corroborative data do we have as to environmental conditions within and without Sputniks I and II at the time any particular sequence of signals was emitted?" We are aided in this direction by noting that all of the instrumentation proposed for Vanguard could have been contained in Sputnik I and much more in Sputnik II and the measurements planned for Vanguard could have been programmed in the Sputniks just as. and (c) those resulting from analysis of the signals as to message content. (e) determination of the density of hydrogen atoms and ions in interplanetary space. and amplitude variation in off-carrier backwave and full carrier conditions.SIGNALS FROM OUTER SPACE (b)(3)-P. As to the first category: the formulae for phenomena controlling orbiting satellites have been developed to a high degree and any observed deviations from these formulae by a satellite in orbit may be ascribed to variations in such phenomena. Transmissions identified as having originated from Sputniks I and II were characterized by the following features: bauds of variable length. Sputnik II. to a limited extent. and noted. and (j) studies on the effect of meteor trails on radio wave propagation in the absence of the ionosphere. L. the explanations for which are in consonance with current theories of ionic rivers. 86-36 Then.

Fig. 4.-~. changing from instant to instant as the signal varies. and were also suitably amplified. Fig. the most natural of these being frequency. On the opposite page. Figs."""-' ~·t~· 2. and signal-element duration.) This effect could be due to the rolling of the satellite. and the amplitude. cut to an optimum length for resonance at the transmission frequency and oriented to the oncoming wave. there is no fixed cycle length necessitating an elongation of the spaces to compensate for a shortening of the marks. N ORDER to make Sputnik I signals perceptible to the ear. being caused by a resetting of the machine. a visual presentation is obviouslv preferable. Special antennas. Fig. Figs. Fig.:>' ':' ..L.l Use unry) . Thus the dark horizontal lines represent the on time and the spaces between them the off time. (For Ojigi81 Use fJnt'{f) 80 81 lfQr Ojieia. 1 to 3 are spectrographs of this sort. . as shown by the rising and falling pattern of the marks. The resulting signal could then be changed from electromagnetic waves into sound waves by headphones or loud-speakers. 1. An oscilloscope furnishes a characteristic visual pattern.. i. 1 and 2 illustrate instantaneous variations in frequency. 1 and 3 it may be noted that the mark durations are varied independently of the spacing. 5 the graphic recording of the upper half shows amplitude (instead of frequency) on the vertical scale. (The dark area to the right of center is not significant. after a trip to the earth from outer space. Fig. 4 illustrates the Doppler effect.SIGNALS FROM OUTER SPACE ILLUSTRATION OF BREAKS OR KEYING TRANSIENTS NOTED AT (b}(3}-P. In order for a signal to convey information it must have components which vary in accordance with the information conveyed. collected the radiations and directed them to communications receivers. 5. amplitude. (The interruption on the right is irrelevant. e. they first had to be translated into a suitable frequency and amplitude. For purposes of examination and study.. 3 shows instantaneous variations of amplitude within the marks. since the frequencies of transmission (20 and 40 MCS) were considerably above the audio range. \ 't_. and reveals a rhythmic undulation in amplitude fluctuations over a longer period of time.86-36 'lIe m/S MARK »>: STAR~F MARK B~~S '. and audio-frequency stages. where they passed progressively through radiofrequency. the frequency slowly rising and then falling as the satellite approaches and recedes from the point (near the horizon) where it is most rapidly approaching the observer. by the variations in the shades of gray. ~ I Fi~. and amplitude by the degree of shading. Fi~. By comparing Figs. frequency vertically. was extremely low. showing time horizontally. 3. 2. however. intermediate frequency.) In Fig. so that by photographing a series of these patterns and arranging them in order of occurrence from left to right a permanent record can be set up of the different parameters and their variations.

Telemetry data from Explorer may well be the key that will open up the message content of the Sputnik signals./ ~LO. Mapping of cloud formations beneath the orbital tracks. as also density. 1 . It is true that these variations have only appeared on a very small percentage of the tapes. and was occasionally accidentally triggered by noise.LL-4. An analysis of the telemetry capabilities of the signals cannot be safely made at this time. Therefore. by converting the output of photoelectric cells into digital information. The list can be extended to cover measurements of other outer space phenomena.1 4 I. R. since the possibility that techniques such as noise modulation are being used has not been evaluated. and IOfJ~A~F Credit for aid in preparation of this article is due to Mr. an assessment of the message content of Sputnik signals.esponsive CONFIDENTIAL in signal characteristics suggest data stream transmission. Cosmic ray measurements are very probable. cannot all be correct and must be treated as conjectures until such time as the notebooks of the responsible U. encoding.SIGNALS FROM OUTER SPACE - R. as equated to identifiable phenomena. but this is what could be expected if a transponder telemetering system was being used. since radio transmission may be the only possible method of data transfer. t I IUSAF.•/ '. The unexplained frequency variations indicate that the signal is carrying intelligence. 86-36 82 83 CONFIDENTIAL . S. (At the moment of writing we know no more as to the message content of Sputnik signals than we did the first day they were identified as such. as found in the open literature. R. As to the heartbeat of the dog-only' those present when the dog was sealed in can substantiate the claims of the U.) This statement is in no way intended to imply either that the correlation is impossible or that such a correlation has not been effected. must be held in abeyance. S. What is implied is that the various postulated correlations.L. or until much more is known about outer space conditions. (b) (3)-P. could have been telemetered to supplement the information derived from "air drop" observations. scientists are available. or types of emission not yet clearly understood. pressure and temperature measurements inside the satellite and in the skin of the satellite. either through the results of our own rocketry programs or through more precise observations on the orbital behavior of Sputniks and X-type satellites. S. S. in this regard. "What data streams?" is of course the question. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I of COLL-2.

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