SP-4217 Beyond the Ionosphere


Chapter 3
Moon Relay Experiments at Jodrell Bank
by Jon Agar


[19] The following describes research carried out at Jodrell Bank on the reflection of radio waves from the Moon. These experiments formed part of wider research programs pursued at the radio astronomy establishment and had implications for military and civil communications. Certain aspects of the experiments can be related to issues of spectacle and the public presentation of science that placed Jodrell Bank as one of the most significant scientific projects of postwar British science. After the descriptions of the radar research programs, there is discussion of the initial reactions at Jodrell Bank to the Echo balloon satellite project, as well as some of the later lunar bounce experiments at another important British laboratory, the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough.


Radar Astronomy at Jodrell Bank


After Patrick Blackett succeeded William L. Bragg as the Langworthy Professor of Physics at Manchester University in the fall of 1937, he immediately switched the research direction of the physics department from crystallography to his interest, cosmic rays.1 With this redirection, many staff changes occurred, among them the appointment of a new assistant lecturer, the young Bernard Lovell. Barely had this research gathered momentum when another event, the outbreak of hostilities with Germany in 1939, scattered the physicists into altogether new environments and responsibilities. World War II mixed and transformed the three traditional locales of scientific research: the military, academia, and industry. In the radar, aeronautical, and code-breaking projects, academic scientists became aware of the extent of available resources, as well as the possibilities of goal-oriented, large-scale research. Links were forged between academic scientists and the government, in both the military and civil service. Many physicists, including Lovell from Manchester and Martin Ryle from Cambridge, entered radar research at the Telecommunications Research Establishment, as it was called by the end of the war. Located at Malvern, this establishment was in many ways the British analogue of the Radiation Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).2



Sir Bernard Lovell, director and founder of the Jodrell Bank radio astronomy observatory, seated at his desk.

Figure 8. Sir Bernard Lovell, director and founder of the Jodrell Bank radio astronomy observatory, seated at his desk. Partially visible in the background is the observatory's 250-foot (seventy-six-meter) telescope, which, with equipment from Pye Telecommunications Ltd., served to establish a long-distance communications link via the Moon. (Courtesy of NASA)


The physicists demobilized at the end of World War II were skilled in radar techniques; they were intent on reentering academia, but they were also well connected with the military and government. Committees considering postwar reconstruction and policy gave high priority to science in the universities. With the Barlow Committee in 1946 insisting on a doubling of "scientific manpower," there was pressure on the universities to expand their scientific departments.3 Blackett, who was one of a number of scientists to be appointed to important government advisory positions during the war, as well as a member of the Barlow Committee, thus returned to his Manchester physics department, and he was prepared for growth.

Blackett and Lovell recruited radar researchers and secured war surplus equipment to continue the department's prewar work on cosmic rays, this time hoping to use radar [21] techniques to detect and investigate cosmic ray showers.4 The radar group established itself at a university-owned location, a botanical research site named Jodrell Bank and located twenty miles (thirty-two kilometers) south of Manchester. Blackett's policy of departmental expansion was to encourage rapid growth in a diversity of projects under team leaders, rather than channeling all of the department's resources into cosmic rays. The Jodrell Bank Research Station grew. When the echoes displayed by the radar sets were identified with meteors in 1946, cosmic ray research branched into an expanding meteor astronomy program.

One can discern two phases of meteor astronomy at Jodrell Bank. First, from 1946 to about 1955, meteor research expanded, with the development of new techniques and the acquisition of new staff. A radar technique devised to deduce orbital characteristics--in particular, whether an orbit was closed (elliptical) or open (hyperbolic)--allowed radar astronomy to comment on a recognized problem already raised, but not resolved, by optical astronomy: the origins of sporadic meteors. Jodrell Bank astronomers argued that they had demonstrated closed orbits for meteors that did not form part of showers, and they concluded that all meteors form part of the solar system. During this first phase, research support came mostly through Manchester University and student fellowships awarded by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR).

During the second phase, from about 1955 to the late 1960s, meteor astronomy was no longer a program of central importance at Jodrell Bank. As the 250-foot (seventy-six-meter) radio telescope neared completion, new subjects and techniques took center stage: research on the scintillation of radio sources; the use of long baseline interferometry techniques; and radar studies of the Moon, planets, and, after 1957, satellites. Meteor research in this second phase was directed less toward astronomy and more toward ionospheric phenomena that might affect missiles. Research support came from the U.S. Air Force.

Studies of radar echoes from the Moon emerged from Jodrell Bank's meteor astronomy program. Observations of lunar echoes had been achieved in 1946 by Lt. Col. John H. DeWitt at the U.S. Army Signal Corps's Evans Signal Laboratory, using a continuous-wave transmitter, and by Zolt·n Bay in Hungary, using an unusual chemical electrolysis receiver.5 During the late 1940s, Frank Kerr, Alex Shain, and Charles Higgins, Australian physicists at the Division of Radiophysics of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, also measured the strength of lunar echoes. They confirmed DeWitt's observation of occasional signal fading, but they differed in terms of the explanation. While DeWitt ascribed rises in signal strength to smooth bounce points, the Australians distinguished between rapid fading (caused by Moon libration) and slow fading (from some other, possibly ionospheric, cause).6

At Jodrell Bank, William Murray, supported by a DSIR student fellowship, and J.K. Hargreaves began their study of lunar echoes in connection with a meteor research team led by Tom Kaiser. By 1953, they reported that "50,000 echoes were photographed and [22] analyzed." Murray and Hargreaves noted that the slow fading had a diurnal pattern, strongly suggesting an ionospheric origin. They concluded, after fresh observations of both the horizontally and vertically polarized components of lunar echoes, that "the long period fading" arose from a slow rotation of the plane of polarization of the radio wave as it passed through the ionosphere--a phenomenon known as the "Faraday effect."7

Soon after the Faraday effect experiments, Murray and Hargreaves took positions elsewhere, at the Radar Research Station (the renamed Telecommunications Research Establishment) and the DSIR's Radio Research Station at Slough.8 Lunar echo research at Jodrell Bank now became the work of John V. Evans, who arrived as a postgraduate student in 1954 and whose supervisor was Ian C. Browne, a colleague of Tom Kaiser working on radar echoes from meteors.9 Finding the apparatus of Murray and Hargreaves a "poor instrument," Evans rebuilt it, increasing the transmitter peak power from one to ten kilowatts and improving the receiver sensitivity.10 The aerial, which was used for both transmission and reception, was "an echelon of ten elements arranged one behind the other along a North-South baseline"; each element had a "reflecting screen tilted back at 45°."11

Evans's postgraduate stipend was for three years. The lunar echo research needed further financial support to continue, and that support was to come from the U.S. Air Force. The route whereby it was secured reveals the crucial assistance of links with American astronomers, as well as the implications that the new source of funding had for Manchester University and the British military. Lovell's link in the United States was Fred Whipple, a Harvard astronomer, a personal friend, and a colleague in meteor astronomy. Whipple reassured Lovell that an Air Force grant did not mean burdensome publishing "restrictions," and he offered to act as initial "intermediary" in negotiations.12

Lovell responded that "important aspects of our program were in the process of being shelved because of financial stringency and consequent lack of research workers." This situation described meteor height determination work, as well as "the lunar echo apparatus," Lovell explained, which was "now in a state where it can be used to measure the total electron content of the ionosphere. . . . Here again, the financial situation is such that my man-power on this valuable program is reduced to one Second Year research student." If extra funds were available from the U.S. Air Force, Lovell envisaged substituting "our present fixed aerial with a steerable one in order that we could do the measurements at all times of the day and night--not merely at lunar transit."13

Further negotiations occurred face to face when Gerald Hawkins, a Jodrell Bank astronomer who had moved to the Harvard College Observatory, visited Lovell in October 1955. In a nice example of a gift exchange cementing scientific networks, Harvard got [23] Hawkins, and Jodrell Bank received Harvard's knowledge of Air Force contacts. Lovell was told to contact Jules Aarons of the Electronics Research Directorate of the Air Force Cambridge Research Center (AFCRC) in Bedford, Massachusetts.14 Although Aarons turned down the proposal to supply Jodrell Bank with a sixty-foot radio telescope for lunar echo work, he did indicate Air Force interest in funding staff and operating costs for certain meteor and lunar echo research. Lovell requested $10,000 to boost the lunar transmitter from ten to ninety kilowatts and $5,000 to rebuild a steerable radio telescope to replace the transit array.15

Whipple reported that he had heard at Christmas in 1955, "via the grapevine," that an AFCRC grant had been awarded to Jodrell Bank. He reassured Lovell that this was good news. The Air Force was "really quite easy to work with," so long as reports were in on time, and once Jodrell Bank had "gotten started with them, you can count on continuation."16 However, Manchester University's bursar, R.A. Rainford, expressed reservations. "I am very worried about possible repercussions," particularly about "security," he wrote to Lovell. "Permission from the Ministry of Defence," he thought, would be necessary.17

The Ministry of Supply, in fact, already had considered the matter. This ministry was responsible for British research on long-range ballistic rockets and their countermeasures and already supported meteor research at Jodrell Bank. In a manner that seemed typical of his lobbying for support for Jodrell Bank projects, Lovell then tried to use American interest to gain further help from the Ministry of Supply. Lovell wrote to Sir Owen Wansbrough-Jones, the Ministry of Supply's chief scientific advisor, that the meteor and lunar echo programs had both "potential military value" and "very great" fundamental interest. Moreover:


If the experiments were not so severely handicapped by lack of money I would have no hesitation in refusing approaches from America, since I am sure that there will be many minor difficulties even if the University felt able to give their permission. One easy way out might be for the Ministry of Supply to increase its support to these programs.18


The Ministry of Supply indeed consented to the AFCRC grant, because a formal consultative procedure between the two military research bodies already existed. Contracts to expand the lunar echo research and to complement the Ministry of Supply-supported work on upper atmosphere winds were agreed on.19 By February 1956, the Engineering Laboratories of the Army Signal Corps joined the AFCRC in developing the Jodrell Bank lunar echo apparatus, particularly with respect to "the problem of transatlantic communication via the Moon."20

Meanwhile, lunar echo research continued. In December 1956, Evans used his rebuilt equipment to carry out what he called the "Double Pulse Experiment," the results of which, he suggested, showed "that the Moon is very limb 'dark,' and that the effective scattering region is at the center of the visible dis[k] having a radius of about one-third that [24] of the lunar radius."21 Further experiments the following March agreed with this reflection hypothesis. The conclusion that only part and not all of the Moon's disk was a strong reflector of radio waves had implications for the use of the Moon as a passive communication device.

Already in 1951, teams at the Naval Research Laboratory and the Central Radio Propagation Laboratory of the National Bureau of Standards had used the Moon as an experimental communications relay. The Naval Research Laboratory transmitted and received Morse later that year; it then operated a voice relay in 1954 and teleprinter connections between Washington, D.C., and San Diego in 1955 and between Washington and Oahu in 1956.22 Evans thought that his results raised the possibility of a higher quality Moon relay system than expected, because a message would be less troubled by echoes reflected from the edges of the Moon's disk. Suggesting that he was curiously unaware of the American achievements, Evans wrote: "[S]ince the effective depth of the Moon is 1 msec or less it becomes possible to use the Moon in a communication circuit with modulation frequencies up to ~1000 c/s. This is probably just sufficient for intelligible speech and could be used for teletype."23

Lovell immediately used Evans's success to increase U.S. Air Force financial support. Because of the "important repercussions on the consideration of the use of the Moon as a relay station," he argued, the work was "so important that a doubling of [the original support] could easily be justified."24 After resolving whether outside authorities, such as the U.S. Air Force, had the right to inspect university accounts25--a central debate in British higher education in the 1950s26--an extension was granted, along with renewals of the meteor programs.27

In the fall of 1957, the Jodrell Bank's 250-foot-diameter, fully steerable radio telescope finally became operational, just in time for the October 1957 launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik. After pressure from the consultant engineer for the instrument, H. Charles Husband, Lovell agreed to demonstrate the efficacy of the troubled radio telescope with a publicized tracking of both the satellite and its carrier rocket.28 The radio telescope was hurriedly fitted with a small seventy-five-watt transmitter, borrowed from the Air Ministry,29 and radar echoes were recorded, first in a test run on the Moon and then from Sputnik and its rocket a week after their launch.

The following autumn, John Evans assisted Lovell in making recordings of voices reflected off the Moon using the radio telescope. Lovell incorporated these recordings as part of his 1958 Reith Lectures. After the radio broadcast of these talks, J.R. Brinkley, a [25] director of Pye Telecommunications Ltd., a British electronics firm based in Cambridge, contacted Lovell and expressed interest in developing a lunar relay communications system.30 Pye offered Jodrell Bank the free loan of equipment. In Pye's view, transatlantic short-wave radio links were too "few, unpredictable and distorted." Moreover, although the service had improved with the opening of the first transatlantic telephone cable (TAT-1) in 1956, submarine cable was no answer to the exponential rise in demand. "[S]ubmarine cable will not solve all the problems," Brinkley declared. "The production and laying of tens of thousands of miles of such cable is a major undertaking, costing great sums of money and taking up much time . . . many of the territories to be reached are inland, with no modern trunk routes connecting them to the sea. The only medium which offers itself is communication via space."31

Pye installed lunar relay transmitters and receivers at Jodrell Bank32 and supplied receivers for the eighty-four-foot (twenty-eight-meter) AFCRC radio telescope at Sagamore Hill, Massachusetts.33 Transmissions from the Jodrell Bank radio telescope using a one-kilowatt transmitter succeeded in May 1959. As Lovell wrote later: "Within a short time clear voice circuits via the Moon had been established between Jodrell Bank and an American telescope, and it was even found possible to transmit recognizable music."34 However, Jules Aarons, Herbert Whitney, and Hugh Peters of the AFCRC considered that "[a]n increase of approximately 15 db gain must be realized in the overall system before good intelligible voice or music can be received."35 The experiment was reversed in November 1959, when Millstone Hill radar at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory transmitted and Jodrell Bank received.36 Plans followed to transmit between Jodrell Bank and Australia and between Jodrell Bank and New Zealand.37

In June 1960, Brinkley told the Commonwealth Press Union that after the Jodrell Bank lunar relay experiments, he was "left in no doubt that practical circuits via the Moon are feasible now and will, in the space of a few years, become economic."38 Although lunar relays could only be used at certain times each day, the "vast number of teleprinter channels that Moon transmission can make available," argued Brinkley, would "relieve existing overloaded short-wave circuits" as well as have uses in "new fields." Pye set out plans for a commercial Moon relay communication involving the defense firm Vickers, using small thirty-foot (ten-meter) dishes made by Vickers and operating around 7,000 megahertz.39 [26] A year later, part of the commercial opportunity Pye saw was the manufacture of large steerable aerials, in conjunction with aircraft manufacturer Hawker Siddeley.40 However, Pye abandoned the plans, according to Lovell, when "the successful use of the initial low orbit satellites, and later of the stationary orbit satellites removed the commercial incentive for the Moon communication link."41 The comments of Pye's managing director, Brinkley, in October 1961 corroborate this argument. Pye would "hesitate to commit ourselves to heavy expenditure on further research and steerable aerials until [Pye was] reasonably sure the expenditure would fit into space communication too." And space communication to Brinkley meant "space satellites."42

After Evans's departure from Jodrell Bank in 1960 to join MIT's Lincoln Laboratory,43 John Thomson took over the leadership of the lunar and other planetary radar experiments. John E.B. Ponsonby, an Imperial College graduate, soon joined him. Under Thomson, lunar radar studies continued through the 1960s and involved, in particular, the development of lunar aperture synthesis techniques to produce high-definition radar maps of the Moon's surface. This research program declined after the Arecibo radio telescope began operating in November 1963.44


The Great Public Spectacle of British Science


By far, the biggest public attraction of 1951 was an exhibition at a specially constructed site on the south bank of the River Thames. This extravaganza was the Festival of Britain, a government-planned display of a revival of British culture after the postwar years of austerity. The festival's aim was to make "visible a brave New World"--a vision continued in the proclamations after the death of George VI in 1952 of a New Elizabethan Age, harking back to the days of glory, undisputed British sea power, and the beginnings of empire under Elizabeth I.45 At the festival's center was the Dome of Discovery, designed around a "narrative." Viewers were told a story of "creditable British exploration, invention and industrial capacity."46 As the highlight to the story, there stood a "radio telescope . . . operated from the Dome of Discovery, with its 'dish' aerial mounted on the top of the Shot Tower. This was beamed on the Moon and visitors could see on a cathode ray tube signals being transmitted there and their reflection back about two and a half seconds later."47 The visiting public, of which there were millions, carried away associations between radio telescopes and public prestige as early as 1951.

A second instance of the use of the Moon to demonstrate radio telescopes can be found in the planned opening ceremony of the 250-foot Jodrell Bank radio telescope. As it neared completion, Sir Charles Renold, chair of the telescope's Site Committee, wrote that once the instrument was in suitable "condition"--that is, "capable of being rotated by power" and receiving radio signals--then a "dramatic and impressive" public display of [27] the efficacy of the telescope should be performed.48 Sir Ben Lockspeiser of the DSIR and Sir John Stopford, who was vice-chancellor of Manchester University, judged that the Duke of Edinburgh would be a suitably symbolic person to perform the opening ceremony.49 Lovell suggested a possible display: "[O]n pressing the button . . . the telescope [would] sweep over one or more of the remote radio sources in the depths of the universe. The resulting signal could be displayed on a number of pen-recording instruments, and these could be used to initiate a local series of events such as the unfurling of flags."50 "Even better" than a remote, invisible radio source, Lovell suggested, was a "radar demonstration" using the visible Moon--a "target likely to create an impression."51

In any event, Sputnik provided a demonstration that the telescope worked--and without an opening ceremony. However, radar echoes from the Moon were shown again in public at the Reith Lectures. The BBC's annual Reith Lectures embodied the principles of its celebrant, the corporation's stern patriarch and defender of elite culture, Lord Reith. From the first lecture, given by Bertrand Russell, an invitation was offered each year to an authoritative public figure "to undertake some study or original research on a given subject and to give listeners the results in a series of broadcasts."52 Lovell was invited, only months after Sputnik, to be the Reith lecturer of 1958. He made good use of his series of talks, called The Individual and the Universe, to defend the cause of big telescopes.53 To Lovell it was "a mortifying thought that the largest [optical] telescope in Great Britain today is considerably smaller than the telescope which Herschel built." However, the national shame of "the steady decay of British influence in astronomy" had "been arrested by remarkable developments in . . . radio astronomy." He located the current position of the "great powers" (the United States and the Soviet Union) as stemming from their support of pure science. According to Lovell, "the technical devices which form the basis of the present economic and cultural strength of the Great Powers can be traced back within a few generations to fundamental scientific investigations which were carried out in the abstract, supported without thought of direct practical benefit."54

Radio telescopes were portrayed as a root of national resurgence, feeding on the cultural association of instrument with nation in the Festival of Britain. To bring the capabilities of the instrument to its listening audience, in the lecture named "Astronomy and the State," Lovell played the recordings of voices relayed via the Moon.


I'm sorry the echo was so weak, but that's not really important. After all, our transmitter had only a thousandth of the power of some of the transmitters which are broadcasting my voice now. The important point is that the voice when received back from the Moon is perfectly intelligible and that the telescope was working on wavelengths which could never be disturbed by atmospheric or ionospheric conditions. Well the result of that investigation is a free gift of the radio astronomer, to all the commercial and military organizations who will no doubt use it in future.55


[28] This was no free gift. Instead, it was part of the ongoing campaign by Lovell to hold together the projects at Jodrell Bank--in particular, the colossal radio telescope.

In the same summer of 1951, during the Festival of Britain, the DSIR considered a request from Manchester University for £279,140 for a giant, steerable radio telescope. The DSIR agreed to fund the project for at least four interlocking reasons. First, it was a project that satisfied the civil service's twin desiderata of scientific "timeliness and promise." Second, the project was proposed by scientists who had built up extensive credit within Whitehall during the war by contributing to research programs, such as radar (for example, Lovell), or by acting as scientific advisors (Blackett). Third, as John Krige has argued in the case of Britain's entry into CERN, the DSIR felt that it faced competition and future challenges to its function, as other departments expanded their own research programs. Consequently, the DSIR was sympathetic to a prestige project.56 Finally, radio astronomy was identified with British capability and leadership, and the giant radio telescope, through its scale and visibility, was promoted as an icon of British progress for consumption at home and abroad. Writing about a quality documentary film to be funded by the British Foreign Office, a DSIR civil servant enthusiastically stated that it had "already proved of greater public interest than any other project" he had handled; "it would bring credit to Britain . . . it should prove more effective propaganda than the films on our social system, housing [or] justice." The radio telescope was, he wrote, the "great public spectacle" of British science.57

However, the spectacle soon slid into debt, and the radio telescope had to be reinterpreted for different audiences in an effort to secure funds.58 For example, it was "financial stringency" that made the U.S. Air Force grants for lunar echo work attractive and that overrode the small doubts about freedom to publish.59 The radio telescope came to dominate work at Jodrell Bank. For example, meteors were translated as "nature's missiles," when Lovell wrote to defense firms seeking contributions to clear the telescope's debt.60 While the promotion of the telescope could prove troublesome in attracting "thousands of visitors from all over the country,"61 identification with national progress could be mobilized in the efforts to pay off the debt. The audio spectacle of voices reflected from the Moon in the Reith Lecture "Astronomy and the State" must be understood within this context.


Working With America


In parallel with the work supported by the U.S. Air Force discussed above, Jodrell Bank also was involved in the satellite program of NASA. Besides the scientific and prestige interests, collaboration with NASA, mostly involving the use of the big radio telescope [29] to track satellites and probes, brought much needed money to Jodrell Bank. One contract alone with NASA paid $179,200 to the radio astronomy observatory.62 The techniques involved in tracking the two Echo mylar balloons were similar to those used in, and were continuous with, work in the Manchester radar program, such as the lunar relay experiments.

The initial response to Echo at Jodrell Bank is revealing. Echo was an attempt to "establish communications between the Bell Telephone Laboratory facility at Holmdel, New Jersey, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory [JPL] facility at Goldstone, California, and the 250-foot dish facility at Jodrell Bank, England."63 Messages would be transmitted and received from the Bell Telephone Laboratory and JPL, but Jodrell Bank would only receive. Evans visited the Bell Telephone Laboratory in October 1959 and discussed the project with Bell scientists. Summarizing his visit for Lovell on his return, Evans wrote: "This experiment seems to be essentially a 'stunt.' There are no good reasons for our participation unless a voice message were to be transmitted, which would give the 'stunt' its maximum publicity value."64

These "stunts," or public displays of scientific spectacle, were highly significant in holding together the Jodrell Bank project, so it is not surprising that the proposed Echo involvement was viewed in this light. Lovell's response was to "suggest we do nothing about the communication part of the business unless we are pressed to do so by NASA. We have already promised NASA to help with the preliminary radar tracking."65

NASA was indeed interested, and Lovell agreed to Jodrell Bank's participation in the Echo communication experiment, so long as the observatory received assistance from Space Technology Laboratories personnel.66 Collaboration with NASA garnered for Jodrell Bank public and national prestige, as well as the possibility of technology transfer. The same pattern emerged from involvement in Echo 2, when Lovell commented to Pye's Brinkley, "I cannot imagine that much other than the establishment of working relations with the Russians will come out of this experiment, but even for that reason we must obviously do our best to join in."67

Government laboratories in Britain were also following the American satellite programs closely. Staff at sites such as the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Farnborough, the General Post Office's growing Goonhilly ground station, the Royal Radar Establishment in Malvern, and the Signals Research and Development Establishment all suggested their own satellite programs68 or sought to collaborate with the Americans.69 The use of the Moon for military communications was carefully examined within the Royal Aircraft Establishment,70 along with other passive systems, such as Echo and Project West Ford, that promised resistance to jamming and interception.71 Although one initial reaction to the proposal to use Moon relay circuits was that the band width would be too restrictive unless [30] suitable frequency multiplexing systems were developed,72 a "Moon relay service" became a Foreign Office "requirement" by 196273 and was probably used elsewhere as a secure link.




This paper considers both private and public lunar echo experiments at Jodrell Bank. The private research was supported initially by British civil and military bodies and later by the U.S. Air Force. The military's interest in the experiments was twofold. First, the Faraday effect measurements imparted knowledge about the content of the ionosphere through which rockets and guided missiles might pass. Second, the Moon could be used as a relay in a passive communications system. The military preferred passive systems, because they were understood to be less susceptible to jamming, interference, and interception.

Companies--in this case, Pye--also were interested in the Jodrell Bank lunar echo experiments because of their significance for communications. Pye briefly planned a commercial Moon relay; it seemed to offer competition with transatlantic telephone cables, as well as a new service where demand was high, but communications unreliable (Brinkley stressed Europe-to-Africa links). It is also possible, given that Pye and its potential collaborators (Vickers and Hawker Siddeley) were defense contractors, that Pye hoped to find a market with the military.

To the scientists at Jodrell Bank, the experiments offered an interesting new field and the possibility of gaining support useful in other projects (for example, new equipment in the form of transmitters and telescopes, as well as new staff). The public lunar echo experiments in these ongoing research programs and in the promotion of radio astronomy in Britain--and the radio telescope in particular--were certainly national spectacle. This spectacle was useful to its sponsors in government in presentations of British progress, as well as for the DSIR internally within Whitehall. To scientists such as Lovell, demonstrations of lunar echoes formed part of the wider campaign to keep the Jodrell Bank project together.



1. A.C. Bernard Lovell, P.M.S. Blackett: A Biographical Memoir (Bristol: John Wright & Sons, 1976), p. 29.

2. A. Calder, The People's War: Britain 1939-45 (London: Cape, 1969), pp. 457-77; A.P. Rowe, One Story of Radar (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1948); Edward G. Bowen, Radar Days (Bristol: Adam Hilger, 1987); A.C. Bernard Lovell, Echoes of War: The Story of H2S Radar (Bristol: Adam Hilger, 1991).

3. Philip Gummett, Scientists in Whitehall (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1980), pp. 218-20.

4. P.M.S. Blackett and A.C. Bernard Lovell, "Radio Echoes and Cosmic Ray Showers," Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, ser. A, vol. 177 (1941): 183-86. See also A.C. Bernard Lovell, "The Blackett-Eckersley-Lovell Correspondence of World War Two and the Origins of Jodrell Bank," Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 47 (1993): 119-31.

5. Andrew J. Butrica, To See the Unseen: A History of Planetary Radar Astronomy (Washington, DC: NASA SP-4218, 1996), pp. 6-12; James S. Hey, The Evolution of Radio Astronomy (New York: Science History Publications, 1973), pp. 25-26.

6. Frank Kerr, Alex Shain, and Charles Higgins, "Moon Echoes and Penetration of the Ionosphere," Nature 163 (1949): 310-13; Frank Kerr and Alex Shain, "Moon Echoes and Transmission through the Ionosphere," Proceedings of the IRE 39 (1951): 230-242; Hey, The Evolution of Radio Astronomy, pp. 118-19; Butrica, To See the Unseen, pp. 21-22.

7. On Kaiser as a team leader, see David O. Edge and Michael J. Mulkay, Astronomy Transformed: The Emergence of Radio Astronomy in Britain (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1976), p. 311; Also see William Murray and J.K. Hargreaves, "Lunar Radio Echoes and the Faraday Effect in the Ionosphere," Nature 173 (1954): 944-45.

8. I.C. Browne, John V. Evans, J.K. Hargreaves, and William Murray, "Radio Echoes from the Moon," Proceedings of the Physical Society B69 (1956): 901-20. Hargreaves later moved to the High Altitude Observatory of the University of Colorado at Boulder, before returning to Lancaster University in Britain. Edge and Mulkay, Astronomy Transformed, p. 414.

9. Ian C. Browne and Tom Kaiser, "The Radio Echo from the Head of Meteor Trails," Journal of Atmospheric and Terrestrial Physics 4 (1953): 1-4.

10. Butrica, To See the Unseen, p. 23.

11. Browne, Evans, Hargreaves, and Murray, "Radio Echoes from the Moon," p. 909.

12. Fred Whipple to Bernard Lovell, letter, 18 May 1955, Jodrell Bank Archives ACC/56/5.

13. Bernard Lovell to Fred Whipple, letter, 9 September 1955, Jodrell Bank Archives ACC/56/5. Lovell also wrote that he was "impressed with the possibilities opened up by the availability of the sixty-foot paraboloid in America."

14. Bernard Lovell to Jules Aarons, letter, 27 October 1955, Jodrell Bank Archives ACC/56/5.

15. Bernard Lovell to Jules Aarons, letter, 21 December 1955, Jodrell Bank Archives ACC/56/5.

16. Fred Whipple to Bernard Lovell, letter, 29 December 1955, Jodrell Bank Archives ACC/56/5.

17. R.A. Rainford to Bernard Lovell, letter, 30 December 1955, Jodrell Bank Archives ACC/56/5.

18. Bernard Lovell to Owen Wansbrough-Jones, letter, 12 January 1956, Jodrell Bank Archives ACC/56/5.

19. Copy of contract AF61(514)-947 for "research of Moon echo phenomena," Jodrell Bank Archives ACC/56/5.

20. Memorandum, "Meteor and lunar echo programme," 7 February 1956, Jodrell Bank Archives ACC/56/5.

21. J.V. Evans, "The Scattering of Radio Waves by the Moon," Proceedings of the Physical Society B70 (1957): 1105-12.

22. Butrica, To See the Unseen, pp. 24-25.

23. Evans, "The Scattering of Radio Waves by the Moon," p. 1112.

24. Bernard Lovell to Jules Aarons, letter, 28 May 1957, Jodrell Bank Archives CS7/35/5.

25. Jules Aarons to Bernard Lovell, letter, 10 June 1957, Jodrell Bank Archives CS7/35/5; R.A. Rainford to Bernard Lovell, letter, 18 June 1957. Rainford wrote: "[T]he University has no objection to taking dollars from the United States for research programmes which are approved by the Ministry of Supply and the DSIR so long as they do not include terms which allow the books of the University to be open for inspection by the United States Government."

26. Jon Agar, "The New Price and Place of University Research: Jodrell Bank in the Economies of Post-war British Science," forthcoming.

27. "Memo on meeting with Colonel Trakowski, Captains Berge and Derrick (USAAF Brussels) on Wednesday, 19 March 1958," 19 March 1958, Jodrell Bank Archives CS7/35/5.

28. H. Charles Husband to Bernard Lovell, letter, 8 October 1957, Jodrell Bank Archives CS7/31/3. Husband wrote: "I do beg of you for the sake of both our reputations that some immediate joint action be taken."

29. Bernard Lovell to J.R. Brinkley, letter, 5 December 1958, Jodrell Bank Archives CS7/33/4.

30. J.R. Brinkley to Bernard Lovell, letter, 2 December 1958, Jodrell Bank Archives CS7/33/4. Brinkley had "discussions with Dr. Ryle and Dr. Smith of the Radio Astronomy Laboratory [in Pye's town, Cambridge] on the exploitation of moon reflection." See also A.C. Bernard Lovell, Out of the Zenith: Jodrell Bank, 1957-1970 (New York: Harper & Row, 1973), p. 212.

31. Talk by J.R. Brinkley to Commonwealth Press Union, "Telecommunications and the Press," 13 June 1960, Jodrell Bank Archives CS7/31/4.

32. J.R. Brinkley to Bernard Lovell, letter, 8 December 1958, Jodrell Bank Archives CS7/33/4. The transmitter immediately available had one kilowatt of power, was highly stable, and worked within the band 100-200 megahertz. The receivers were "mass production and high grade."

33. Jules Aarons, Herbert Whitney, and Hugh Peters, "Bistatic Transatlantic Moon Reflections," undated report, Jodrell Bank Archives CS7/67/1.

34. Lovell, Out of the Zenith, p. 212.

35. Aarons, Whitney, and Peters, "Bistatic Transatlantic Moon Reflections."

36. John Thomson, "Moon and Venus Radar: Passive Satellite Observations," Technical (Final) Report under contract AF61(052)-172, October 1958-December 1960, Jodrell Bank Archives CS7/33/4.

37. J.R. Brinkley to Bernard Lovell, letter, 7 February 1961, Jodrell Bank Archives CS7/31/4; J.R. Brinkley to Clifton D. Ellyett, 21 May 1959, Jodrell Bank Archives CS7/33/4. J.L. Pawsey of the Division of Radiophysics group in Sydney coordinated the Australian end of the experiment.

38. Brinkley, "Telecommunications and the Press."

39. J.R. Brinkley to Bernard Lovell, letter, 16 September 1959, Jodrell Bank Archives CS7/33/4.

40. J.R. Brinkley to Bernard Lovell, letter, 9 December 1960, Jodrell Bank Archives CS7/31/4.

41. Lovell, Out of the Zenith, p. 212.

42. J.R. Brinkley, "The Economics of Space Communications," 22 September 1961, Jodrell Bank Archives CS7/55/2.

43. John Evans, interview with Andrew Butrica, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC, 9 September 1993, JPL Archives. See also Lovell, Out of the Zenith, pp. 194-96.

44. See Lovell, Out of the Zenith, p. 207, for Arecibo's effect on the Venus radar program.

45. Roy Strong, "Prologue," in Mary Banham and Bevis Hillier, eds., A Tonic to the Nation: The Festival of Britain 1951 (London: Thames & Hudson, 1976), p. 8.

46. Misha Black, "Architecture, Art and Design in Unison," in Banham and Hillier, eds., A Tonic to the Nation, p. 84.

47. Ian Cox, "Three Years a-Growing," in Banham and Hillier, eds., A Tonic to the Nation, p. 69.

48. Renold, "Radio Telescope: Opening Date," memorandum, 6 December 1956, Jodrell Bank Archives CS7/31/2.

49. Bernard Lovell to John Stopford, letter, 8 December 1954, Jodrell Bank Archives CS7/39/5.

50. Bernard Lovell to Charles Husband, letter, 13 December 1956, Jodrell Bank Archives CS7/31/2.

51. Bernard Lovell to Charles Husband, letter, 4 January 1957, Jodrell Bank Archives CS7/31/3.

52. Preface to Bertrand Russell, Authority and the Individual, BBC Reith Lectures 1948 (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1949).

53. Bernard Lovell, The Individual and the Universe, BBC Reith Lectures 1958 (London: Oxford University Press, 1959).

54. Ibid., pp. 66-67.

55. Ibid., p. 69.

56. John Krige, "Britain and the European Laboratory Project: 1951-mid-1952," in Armin Hermann, John Krige, Ulrike Mersits, and Dominique Pestre, eds., History of CERN (Amsterdam and New York: North-Holland Physics Publishing, 1987-1990), vol. 1, pp. 431-74.

57. Hingston, "Film of the Radio Telescope," memorandum, December 1953, Jodrell Bank Archives CS7/15/1. See also Jon Agar, "Screening Science: Spatiality and Authority at Jodrell Bank," in Jon Agar and C.W. Smith, eds., Making Space for Science (London: Macmillan, forthcoming).

58. See Jon Agar, "Making a Meal of the Big Dish: The Construction of the Jodrell Bank Mark I Radio Telescope as a Stable Edifice, 1946-57," British Journal for the History of Science 27 (1994): 3-21.

59. As the Manchester University's bursar wrote in 1958: "Money is now very tight and the only way to keep the Station going fully is to make sure that outside 'users' pay their due share of the total costs." J.R. Rainford to Bernard Lovell, letter, 7 August 1958, Jodrell Bank Archives CS7/33/4.

60. Bernard Lovell to Espley (GEC), letter, 25 November 1955, Jodrell Bank Archives CS7/3/3. Likewise, as Lovell wrote to de Ferranti, the Radio Telescope became "really a gigantic radar scanner." Bernard Lovell to de Ferranti, letter, 22 November 1955, Jodrell Bank Archives CS7/3/3.

61. Letter, Lovell to Mansfield Cooper, 6 June 1957, Jodrell Bank Archives CS7/41/3.

62. NASA Contract No. NASw-68, effective date 14 April 1959, Jodrell Bank Archives ACC/53/2.

63. "NASA SPACECONN Project Echo S-42 OPLAN 4-60," report, Jodrell Bank Archives CS3/9/4.

64. John Evans, "Notes upon my Visit to Bell Telephone Lbs.," memorandum, October or November 1959, Jodrell Bank Archives CS1/3/1.

65. Bernard Lovell to John Evans, internal note, 5 November 1959, Jodrell Bank Archives CS1/3/1.

66. Bernard Lovell, Out of the Zenith, p. 213. Lovell quotes from his letter to Leonard Jaffe. Space Technology Laboratories was a wholly owned subsidiary of Ramo-Wooldridge (later TRW).

67. Bernard Lovell to J.R. Brinkley, letter, 4 March 1963, Jodrell Bank Archives CS3/13/1.

68. For example, T.W.G. Dawson of the Royal Aircraft Establishment suggested "hair satellite" and "flashing satellites" systems.

69. The General Post Office was NASA's British partner in such proposed experiments as Relay, TSX, and Rebound. The Royal Aircraft Establishment was anxious that it should also gain experience with satellites.

70. Lunar echo experiments were carried out at the Royal Aircraft Establishment in the early 1960s to prepare techniques for passive satellite communications systems.

71. John E. Clegg, "A Note on the Use of the Moon and Passive Satellites for Long Distance Communication," 22 June 1961, Public Records Office, AVIA, 13 1292. See also the comment in "Military Communications--Satellites/Moon," meeting minutes, 20 October 1960: "[I]t was becoming clear that the GPO [General Post Office] will confine themselves to active satellites in co-operation with NASA (to ensure adequate bandwidth for a civil system) but that NASA would continue with both passive and active satellites. Passive satellites have some properties of particular importance to possible military communications systems and it was important for Ministry of Aviation to study such satellites."

72. C. Williams, Royal Aircraft Establishment, Radio Department, note, Public Records Office, AVIA, 13 1292.

73. "Satellite Communications Research," meeting minutes, 12 February 1962, Public Records Office, AVIA, 13 1292.