Would it be possible to receive the transmissions from JWST (James Webb Space Telescope) as an amateur, building your own antenna?

Would the transmissions be encrypted?

One source cites it using: S-band at 2270.5 MHz to transmit telemetry and that the science data will be transmitted in K-band at 29.5 GHz, with a rate of up to 28 Mbps.


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    $\begingroup$ I don't have enough for a full answer, but someone can pick up the pieces I'm leaving in this comment and turn it into one: NASA uses the DSN (eyes.nasa.gov/dsn/dsn.html) to communicate with JWST. With a 34-meter parabolic dish, the S-band telemetry is coming in at -121 dBm and the K-band is coming in at -98 dBm. That's after a dish antenna gain of 50-80 dB, depending on the band. $\endgroup$
    – Tristan
    Commented Jan 20, 2022 at 2:04
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    $\begingroup$ different but related: Hijacked space data, notable instances of recovering images or other goodies from someone else's space mission? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jan 20, 2022 at 2:43
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    $\begingroup$ also different, but possibly related: space.stackexchange.com/questions/50015/… $\endgroup$
    – Ryan C
    Commented Jul 16, 2022 at 2:26
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    $\begingroup$ From what I can gather, yes. According to NASA, one year after the data has been downloaded by the observer, they will make it available for public consumption, exactly as they have done with ESA/Hubble. Here ya go: jwst.nasa.gov/content/forScientists/faqScientists.html#policies $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 21:01
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    $\begingroup$ @Dragongeek An ordinary transmission protocol would suffice, no need for encryption. Only the uplink needs to be protected. However, look at Tristan's comment--that's outside the amateur realm. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 5:20

1 Answer 1


Yes, it is possible to detect the S band telemetry from JWST as an amateur, and it has been done with a 6.1m dish. Hams have built dishes this big. The source you listed details this, and was written by a ham. The telemetry does not appear to be encrypted.

To receive the Ka band science data would require a much bigger antenna on the order of an 18 meter dish due to the signal strength and wide bandwidth. I cannot find an authoritative source on if the science downlink is encrypted.


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