Sat, Jun 16, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Baby monitor picks up images from space shuttle


A mother of two in this suburb of Chicago does not have to turn on the news for an update on NASA's space mission.

She just flips on her baby monitor.

Since Sunday, Natalie Meilinger's baby monitor has been picking up black-and-white video from inside the space shuttle Atlantis.

"Whoever has a baby monitor knows what you'll usually see," the elementary school science teacher said. "No one would ever expect this."

Live video of the mission is available on NASA's Web site, so it's possible the monitor is picking up a signal from somewhere.

Doug Phelps, a member of an amateur radio club in neighboring Schaumburg, thinks he knows why Meilinger is seeing visions from space.

His organization, the Illinois chapter of the Motorola Amateur Radio Club, rebroadcasts NASA video as a public service. Because amateur radio operates on the same frequency as baby monitors, it is likely that is where Meilinger is picking up the video.

"If you had a receiver in the right frequency, anybody in the public can pick up this signal," said self-described radio "geek" Phelps. "The baby monitor was in the right place at the right time."

Officials from NASA have said the signal is not coming straight from the shuttle, according to NASA spokeswoman Brandi Dean.

"People here think this is very interesting and you don't hear of it often -- if at all," Dean said.

Cindy Barlow, communications director for Summer Infant, the monitor's manufacturer said she's never heard of anything like it.

``Not even close,'' she said. ``Gotta love technology.''

Meilinger silenced disbelieving co-workers by bringing in a video of the monitor to show her class on Tuesday, her students' last day of school. At home, three-month-old Jack and two-year-old Rachel do not quite understand what their parents are watching.

"I've been addicted to it and keep waiting to see what's next," Meilinger said.

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