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Amateur Radio Role on Space Station Featured at ISS Research and Development Conference


Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) will have a prominent place at the third annual ISS Research and Development Conference this week. The conference, organized by American Astronautical Society (AAS) in cooperation with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space and NASA, takes place June 17-19 in Chicago.

ARISS International Chairman and AMSAT Vice President for Human Spaceflight Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, will be the lead presenter for a program compiled by members of the ARISS US team — which includes ARISS International Secretary and ARRL Delegate Rosalie White, K1STO, ARRL Education Services Manager Debra Johnson, K1DMJ, and E. Mike McCardel, KC8YLD, of AMSAT. “ARISS — Inspiring and Educating Youth through Direct Connections with the ISS Crew” focuses on ARISS and its role in education.

ARISS is the first and longest continuously running educational outreach program involving the International Space Station. The first ARISS school contact took place in late 2000, and nearly 900 such Amateur Radio contacts have taken place since then. ARISS functions with participation from the ARRL, NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), the Russian Space Agency (ROSCOSMOS), CNES, JAXA, CSA and AMSAT. It allows students, as part of a science and technology curriculum, to speak with a member of the ISS crew and ask questions about life in space or other space-related topics.

ARISS conducts about 100 such school contacts per year, each about 10 minutes long — the time of a typical ISS pass — with students in the US and around the world. Preparation for the ARISS experience motivates both students and teachers to further their educations. Educators involved in an ARISS event can learn about electronics and wireless technology through the hands-on training provided in an ARRL Teachers Institute on Wireless Technology session — several are held each year. In similar fashion, youngsters preparing for a contact with an ISS crew member may learn about radio waves, space technology, science experiments onboard the ISS, geography, and the space environment. Some 15,000 students are touched directly by an ARISS contact each year, and many more become aware the program and its benefits either directly or via news media coverage resulting from an event.

The ARISS presentation at this week’s AAS conference will provide some historical background on the ARISS program, describe the international volunteer team responsible for making program a success, and provide an overview of the process for schools to apply for an ARISS school contact. It will also explain how the ARISS team, partnered with NASA Education Office’s Teaching from Space program to engage schools and students. And it will describe some of the educational outcomes from ARISS, including data and feedback from schools, students, and organizations.

In addition to inspiring an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curricula and careers, ARISS offers an opportunity for Amateur Radio experimentation and for evaluating new technologies. Today the ISS is only very rarely without an Amateur Radio licensee onboard, and the complement of Amateur Radio equipment on the ISS has expanded considerably since the early days of the ARISS program. While the initial hand-held VHF and UHF transceivers remain in use, mobile-type transceivers have been installed since, the ISS has slow-scan TV and digital capabilities, and, more recently, the ARISS program completed the commissioning of digital Amateur Radio television equipment to transmit video from space in conjunction with ARISS school contacts. That effort remain under development.

The emphasis of the overall AAS conference is on ISS research and development — Discoveries in Microgravity Science; Discoveries in Space Science, Earth Science, Engineering and Education; Applications Benefitting Earth; Applications Enabling Technology and Exploration; and Opportunities. — Thanks to The American Astronautical Society via AMSAT News Service





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