Amateur ("Ham") radio Question

Many years ago, as a teenage, I had an ambition to become a “ham” radio operator. An older cousin of mine was such a guy, and kindly gave me a lot of help, including his ARRL magazines. Anyway, I never actually became a ham-but I remember in one of the books, that the ARRL organization established a prize, for the first amateur radio operator to ESTABILS COMMUNICATION with the planet Mars! Does anybody know if the prize was ever awarded? Do radio hams have the ability to communicate with any of the NASA/JPL probes that have been sent to Mars? I remember seeing a picture of the award-in addition to a cash prize, there was an odd-looking sculpture of a fancible “martian”-sort of a little green man type guy!
Anybody know anything about this prize?:confused:

Nope, but I’ve forwarded your Q to my dad, who’s Mr. Old-Fogey Ham Radio Expert in these here parts.

My username demands that I try to answer your question.
AFAIK no ham has established communication with Mars. They may be able to RX the probes, but I wouldnt count on it. (They HAVE heard the Lunar Prospector, see link below)

They have communcated with Astronauts on the space shuttle (I heard them myself) and the MIR (and probably the ISS) and with sattelites (

Signals have been bounced off the Moon and recieved (it is called Earth-Moon-Earth)

See for links to this and amateur radio astronomy in general (may even answer you question)


I checked the sites mentioned, and also the ARRL site-nobody had any info on this award. How would I go about checking the back issues of the ARRL magazine-from say 1958-1968? I’m sure that’s where I saw this oddball award!:slight_smile:

As of 1999 the prize – which requires contact between two amateur stations – was still unclaimed, according to an American Radio Relay League newsletter article: Elser-Mathes Cup Awaits Extraterrestrial QSO. This also mentions that the QST magazine article you remember appeared in November, 1969.

(In the early 1920s, Hugo Gernsback’s magazines carried numerous serious articles about how to contact Mars by radio, not just as fiction).

Wasn’t your full name ralph124c41?

That’s the way I remember it anyway.

Bingo! Gary-you are the only one to undetrstand the origin of my screen name-yest, it is from a Gernsback pulp novel of 1926!

Actually, his full name is Ralph 124C 41+, and the story first appeared as a serial in Gernsback’s Modern Electrics in 1911. I remembered seeing the individual sections when I was going though Modern Electrics looking for radio history articles.