On October 4, 1957 the first artificial Earth satellite, Sputnik 1, was successfully launched. Scientists at Ditton Park quickly contrived an experiment to detect the radio signals from the satellite using a Cathode Ray Direction Finder.
The rather confusing image below is a photograph of their results. The three panels (from left to right) show readings on the CRDF at three times around seven seconds apart. The top oscilloscope traces are very similar for each time, demonstrating that the satellite was moving in a fixed direction. The lines on the lower three oscilloscope screens gradually changes direction as the satellite travels overhead.
From this point on, studies of the ionosphere have been inextricably linked with space science.