ARRL Letter February 1, 2018

Scott Tilley, VE7TIL, of Roberts Creek, British Columbia has been in the news a lot lately.

In the American Radio Relay League’s issue of The  ARRL Letter on February 1, 2018,   News Editor Rick Lindquist, WW1ME, wrote the following in an article about Scott:

Canadian Radio Amateur Finds Resurrected NASA Satellite

“When he’s not on ham radio, Scott Tilley, VE7TIL, an amateur astronomer, hunts spy satellites. Using an S-band radio from his home in Roberts Creek, British Columbia, Tilley routinely scans the skies for radio signals from classified objects orbiting Earth, according to a recent article on

Earlier this month, he saw the signature of IMAGE (Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration), a NASA spacecraft believed to have died in December 2005. The discovery has delighted space scientists.

The IMAGE spacecraft undergoing launch preparations in early 2000. Credits: NASA
The IMAGE spacecraft undergoing launch preparations in early 2000. Credits: NASA

‘The long gone and nearly forgotten IMAGE spacecraft has come back to life and been detected by an amateur astronomer,’ said Mission Manager Richard J. Burley at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), which confirmed that what Tilley spotted is, indeed, IMAGE. Amateur observer Paul Marsh, M0EYT, in the UK, provided the first independent confirmation of the IMAGE signal.

NASA said on January 29 that observations from five sites were consistent with the RF characteristics expected of IMAGE.”

Please see the complete article at:

Additional Coverage

Washington PostIn addition, several other news sources including the Washington Post and The Sunday Times have reported on Scott’s amazing achievement.

In the Washington Post article on February 1, Allison Klein wrote:

“Amateur astronomer Scott Tilley was in his home office on a recent evening, using his radio equipment to scan space in a needle-in-a-haystack search for a spy satellite operated by the US Air Force.

Tilley, 47, launches himself on missions like this nightly. Since he was about 8, he has been a devoted but earthbound space explorer, looking for hidden satellites in the sky for hours on end.

As he scanned the skies that night a few weeks ago, he did not find what he was looking for, but he came across something possibly even better: a different satellite, a weather craft NASA lost more than a decade ago. NASA had searched for the spacecraft, worth about $150 million, for two years before giving up.

For an amateur astronomer, it was the stuff of dreams.”

For the complete story visit:

In the February 2, 2018 issue of  The Sunday Times, Will Pavia reported:

“A Nasa satellite lost in 2005 has been found by an amateur radio astronomer, stirring hopes that a ground-breaking scientific mission can be revived more than a decade later.

The Sunday TimesRobert Tilley, an electrical engineer, was searching for a recently launched spy satellite known as Zuma from his own radio station on the west coast of Canada.

He picked up a signal from a satellite orbiting far higher than the spy satellite ought to be and which seemed to match that of Image, a Nasa satellite missing and presumed dead.”

For the complete story visit

Background Information

Long Dead NASA Spacecraft Wakes Up

In his online blog, Scott Tilley posted the following on January 21, 2018:

“Over the past week the station has been dedicated to an S-band scan looking for new targets and refreshing the frequency list, triggered by the recent launch of the mysterious ZUMA mission. This tends to be a semi-annual activity as it can eat up a lot of observing resources even with much of the data gathering automated the data reviewing is tedious.

Upon reviewing the data from January 20, 2018, I noticed a curve consistent with an satellite in High Earth Orbit (HEO) on 2275.905MHz, darn not ZUMA… This is not uncommon during these searches. So I set to work to identify the source.

A quick identity scan using ‘strf’ (sat tools rf) revealed the signal to come from 2000-017A, 26113, called IMAGE.”

January 30, 2018, Update

NASA confirmed the discovery on its website on January 30 at:

The identity of the satellite re-discovered on Jan. 20, 2018, has been confirmed as NASA’s IMAGE satellite.

On the afternoon of Jan. 30, the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Maryland, successfully collected telemetry data from the satellite. The signal showed that the space craft ID was 166 — the ID for IMAGE.

The NASA team has been able to read some basic housekeeping data from the spacecraft, suggesting that at least the main control system is operational.

Scientists and engineers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will continue to try to analyze the data from the spacecraft to learn more about the state of the spacecraft. This process will take a week or two to complete as it requires attempting to adapt old software and databases of information to more modern systems.”



Scott Tilley, VE7TIL

The ARRL Letter:

NASA blog:

The Washington Post:

The Sunday Times: