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1.2.1 Historical Overview.

The fact that the ionized trails of meteors entering the earth’s atmosphere can reflect the radio signal has been known since the early 1930s, when Pickard noticed that bursts of long distance, high frequency propagation occurred at times of major meteor showers [7]. In 1935, Skellet found that when a meteor entered the earth's atmosphere, the denser air caused the meteor to heat up and eventually burn, creating an ionized trail which could be used to reflect a radio signal back to earth. Skellet postulates that the mechanism was reflection or scattering from electrons in meteor trail [7]. During the World War II radio engineers observed meteor trail echoes, which were sometimes confused with incoming missiles.

It was not until after the war when radio technology had extended into the VHF and UHF bands that radio engineers became interested in the meteor scatter phenomena. From the 1950s through the 1970s, meteor burst technology was studied and actual tests were conducted to determine the feasibility of using meteor trails. Some interesting information were found. Unfortunately, until the availability of integrated solid-state microcomputer, meteor burst communications was not considered practical except for slow-speed data system. The waiting time between meteor trails seemed too long for modern use [7].

A usable system became operational when Canada installed the JANET systems between Toronto and Port Arthur in the 1950s. Another one-way link was installed between Bozeman (Montana) and Stanford (California). In the late 1970s, the Alaska SNOTEL (SNOpacTELemetry) system was installed to provide meteorological information from remote locations through Alaska [7].

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