Hillbilly Tracking of Low Earth Orbit: Repurposing an Inmarsat Dish

Presented at 30C3 (2013), Dec. 28, 2013, 2 p.m. (60 minutes)

Satellites in Low Earth Orbit have tons of nifty signals, but they move quickly though the sky and are difficult to track with fine accuracy. This lecture describes a remotely operable satellite tracking system that the author built from a Navy-surplus Inmarsat dish in Southern Appalachia. Satellites in Low Earth Orbit have tons of nifty signals, but they move quickly though the sky and are difficult to track with fine accuracy. This lecture describes a remotely operable satellite tracking system that the author built from a Navy-surplus Inmarsat dish in Southern Appalachia. The entire system is controlled through a Postgres database, fed by various daemons spread across multiple machines. So when I click on a satellite on my laptop or cellphone, it runs "UPDATE target SET name='Voyager 1';" and the motor daemon then begins to track the new target while the prediction daemon maintains accurate estimates of its position in the sky. Additional daemons take spectral prints or software-defined radio recordings of the targeted object for later review.

Presenters:

  • Travis Goodspeed
    Travis Goodspeed is a neighborly reverse engineer from Southern Appalachia. At 29C3, he presented some nifty tricks for producing actively antiforensic hard disks. At 28C3, he presented nifty tricks for remotely injecting raw 802.11b packets without a software bug or a radio.

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