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Highlight* of our scientist*in Interceptine; andthe video from Soviet spacecraft.
SNOOPING ON SPACE PICTURES Henry G. Plaster
Lunik UTi pictures of the far ride of the moon lo9 ea cited the world and proved that the Soviets had then the technology toamera to space by remote control, cmTn^ it to take pictures, aotornatieaDy develop the Elm on board the spacecraft, and finally scan tbe fixed film eSectrcancaDy and transmit fak-qualityback to earth from lunar distances- Since then they havereal-time (Le, concurrent,elevision systems In scene of their earth-orbiting vehicles to monitor the behavior of dog and human passengers, and they have used fn lorno of their Cosmosa delayed transmission system somewhat similar to that of Lunik HL
A fascinating and extremely Important aspect of the USeffort devoted to these video systems Is tbe work of engineering analysis In "creaking out" the pictures contained In the radio Oxnsmis-rions. The processrial-and-ertor aspect like cryptanaiysis: since both the horizontal and vertical sweep periods are unknown variables, there are an infinite number of possible combinations. The engineer usually begins by trying to rvnehronize tbe vertical axis by band while synchronizing the horizontal sweep electronically. It requires hours of esperirnentatjon with tbe osdDoscope controls for sweep speed, filtering, and focus, displaying and redisplayingas little as two seconds worth of recorded data, to get results.
The results of this technical analysis have been valuable tocoiwimert, and the successful effort deserves generalIt has involved special Elint collection techniques, newto signal analysis, feedback to assist In subsequent coucctioc, and intelligence Interpretation of the pictures for the consumers.
Lunar Surface Video
The very weak signals returning to earth from Lunik HI could not be picked up by standard Elint collection facilities and eqmprnent.
Through the coo per* boo of the University of Muebester inuse ofoot rsdioteleicope at JodreD BankTbe Soviets axuvounced that pictures of the fax side ofwere taken0c^eenwich Mean7odiell Bank succeeded inignalannounced frequencyegacycleshaten hour lag behind tbe actual picture-takingexcessive: the film first bad to be developed, and then thescanning and traiisrnisjioii bad to wait .until ^rotation ofbrought the Soviet deep-space station in the Crimea intoto pick up the
The graduate students working for Sir Bernard LoveH at JodreD Bank, however, in recording their Intercept, narrowed the receives bandwidth so far. In order to increase the signalto-nolse ratio, that theyoff" much of the video information. ConfL-nvaboo that the Lunik LQ pictures released by the Soviets (See Figurealid thus restedingle poorly recorded "intercept from which ft could be fudged only that tbe picture was more likelyest pattern than of the moon. The signal bandwidth, however, waswith tbe parameters announced by tbe Soviets, and no the basis of technical axtrapolatfon It could be concluded that tbe Soviet lunar pictures were authentic.
Spacecraft Fottengert Televised
ndaunched respectively onugust, both transmitted signals onegacycles which were initially reported by field Elint operators and later confirmed through detailed analysis to be video transmissions. Soviet announcements tbat the dog passengers on these satellites were being watched while in orbit by meansradio-television" rystem rpurrcd on analytical extorts to demodulate this new type of signal, and before long CIA technical analysts did succeed In producing pictures from Sputnikecorded signals. (Seehese substantiated the Soviet rljim of havingpecial televisionsystem which could provide instantaneous reporting oa the behavior of animal or human passengersoviet spacecraft
More important to intelligence loowever, wasapability to determine as soon after launch aswhether the Soviets had luecessf uliy orbited the first man toeat they were expected to attempt at any moment. The
a mi i-
National Security Agency undertook to design and produce special field collection equipment that would present oscilloscope pictures while tbe transmission was being received. Several such sets were producedriority basis, and the first two were sent to Elint sites in Alaska and Hawaii.
Demodulation of video transmissions from9nd Sputnikubstantiated the Sovietthat each of these single-orbit Sightsog passenger. Then on1 Sputnikas launched,megacycle transmissions were detected twenty minutes later as tbe spacecraft parsed over Alaska. Onlyinutes after launch NSA reportedeliable real-time readout of tbe signals dearlyan and showed him moving. Thus before Gagarin bad completedinute Bight, intelligence components hadoviet cosmonaut was In orbit and that be was alive (See
Earth/Cloud Picture* from Orbit
Infter several fail urea, the Soviets launched tbe first satellite in what they referred to as the "Cosmosheythe purpose of the new project to be scientific datatoduding study of "the distribution and formation of clou Jfn tbe earth's atmosphere."
f the series. launched onransmittedidentified initially only asew data bruismissfono tbe frequency bondeg* cyder, one notused in Soviet space operations. CIA technical specialists mounted an effort to demodulate these tignals and similar ones from Cosmosaunched onhrough rigorous analysis they established many of the signal paraxon era, but no identifiable pictures could be produced. Though recordedumber of Eliot collection sites, the signals were of insuxBcient quality for picture reconstruction because tbe general-search equipment used was not suitable forst highly complex wide-band, frequency modulated videoFrom the unrecognizable pictures that wen achieved ft wasconcludedamera or cameras on board these Cosmos vehicles were taking photographs, probably of doud forniations. that these photographs were developed by an on-board film processor, and that dse fixed film was subsequently scanned electronically and tbe signals transmitted to ground-based receivers in the Soviet Union.
Cosmosaunched onhe third Cosmos vehicle to transmit video signals, was the first from which recognizable pictures could be reproduced. Since cloud cover was readily tdeittiJUbleeries of six pictures, CIA geophysics and electronics specialistsrepresentatives of the National Meteorological Satellite Center of the U. S. Weather Bureau, tbe or ionization which processes the Tiros weather satellite photographs. Through photogrammetricof the pictures.as adjudged to be an experimental weather satellite, stabilized .about three axes. esrdJorien^ed, andamera system with provision for delayed readout from the film NASA was briefed on these findings prior to2 signing of its agreement with the Soviet Academy of Sciences on cooperative space research and the exchange of data fromsatellites. Tbe findings were also presented2 meeting of technical representatives of tbe intelligenceIncluding some from tbe Jet iVopulston laboratory working Under an mtcDigence contract
In direct consequence of this latter presentation, JPL technical -experts embarkedetailed study of all utercepts of the Cosmos video taansoiissiorts, making use of the most sophisticated electronic and photographic equipment available. By the following May they had succeeded In breaking out three overlapping pictures eachof sixteen subfrarnes which had been transmitted In sequence. (That they had been transmitted by electronically scanning the fixed film, as In Lunik IIL was confirmed by their snowing readilyemulsionwo of these pictures clearly showed Lake Van fn Turkey (Seend thus the entire land area in the pictures, where free from cloud cover, could be identified and the camera's field of view thereby defined. Theens employed was such as would be expectedeteorological satellite and not suitable for mfbtary reconnaissance. To achieve with thisilitary reconnaissance resolution on the order of twenty feet, the film would have to be five feetechnological im-poxsibility at present
Afterunched onhe Soviets orbited no further Cosmos vehicles with video transmissions, though they have bunched and recovered moreozen that are believed to bave bad reconnaissance cameras aboard. On the basts of the stage of development manifested by the four that did transmit video, NASA was again briefed concerning Soviet weather satellite capa-
bilities prior to the formal implementation on3 of its agreement with the Soviet Academy of Sciences regarding cooperative space programs. This agreement calledegular exchange of data from meteorological satellites beginning in tbe second halfreceded by occasional exchange of experimental data during the first half of the year. It set as an objective pictures covering an area athousand kilometers squareesolution Initiallyilometers, ultimately of one kilometer.
No further Sight testing of the video system having oorsnrred since tbe springt became increasingly obvious as time passed that the Soviets were not going to be able to meets flown, the camera system identified through the video transmissions could not have met them:ens would need an altitudeautical miles to produce the required area coverage. At this altitude, however, the Cosmos system could transmit photos with an average resolution of at0 feet, considerably better than0 feet ultimately aimed stir, the agreexnerrt
This Information plus an estimate of tlie characteristics to be ea?he Initial "operationaT Soviet weather satellite was passed along to NASA In advance of the4 discussions fas. Ceneva on further implementation of the meteorologies] agreement Although the formal "memorandum of understanding" resulting from thesedoes notew date for beginning the exchange of data, the Soviets rrdotmally agreed to aim for
When the exchange of data from meteorological satellites begins, anticfpatedlyt will be up to the intelligence community to establish that the cloud pictures the Soviets give us axe as complete and as good as what they receive from their satellites. After the initialnitiation, periodic spot checks will be required
Peal-time television signals will undoubtedly be transmitted from future Soviet manned spacecraft. TV pictures of Soviet cosmonauts' rnov-emcnts would be of great help to us as assessing pilotIn rendezvous and docking operations. The activity of passengers in future Soviet orbital space stations will probably be monitored through live TV cameras, and U. S. intelligence will beetition to check on It at tbe same time by operating readout devices at Elint sates peripheral to the USSR.
Future Soviet lunar and planetary prober will probablyechnique of picture taking and delayed electronic scanning and rjansmtstion. For manned lunar nustions, some sort of picture traos-mlssion system will undoubtedly be employed, probably one with more advanced tecfuuques.
Constant upgrading of collection equipment and continued analysis of baosmitted video signals will ensure tbat U. S. intelligence will remain ia asosition for assessing future Soviet apace eflorta as ft baa enjoyed so far.Original document.