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Hams Invited to Listen for New Satellites

11/20/2010

Five research satellites were carried to orbit Friday evening aboard a Minotaur V rocket from Kodiak Island, Alaska. All the satellites use Amateur Radio frequencies and hams have been invited to participate in their missions by monitoring and collecting data.

The FASTRACs are two relatively small “nanosatellites” built by students at the University of Texas-Austin. They enter orbit as a single spacecraft, but then separate into FASTRAC 1, known as “Sara Lily,” and FASTRAC 2, referred to as “Emma.” Both satellites use 1200 or 9600 baud AX.25 digital communication and transmit at 1 W output, so they should be receivable with omnidirectional VHF or UHF antennas and decodable by ordinary packet radio hardware and software.

                                                FASTRAC 1    FASTRAC 2

Downlink(1200/9600 Baud)   437.345 MHz    145.825 MHz

Beacon (1200 Baud)               437.345 MHz   145.825 MHz

Uplink (1200 Baud)                145.980 MHz    435.025 MHz

Uplink (9600 Baud)                145.825 MHz    437.345 MHz

Satellite Call Sign                   FAST1                        FAST2

After their scientific missions are complete, the satellites will be reconfigured to function as digipeater relays for Amateur Radio use as part of the Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS).

Hams are invited to create a free account at the FASTRAC Web page and begin uploading telemetry data. Mission status information is also available via the FASTRAC Facebook page.

The third satellite in the group is the University of Michigan's Radio Aurora Explorer (RAX) CubeSat. RAX was designed and built by University of Michigan students and faculty in cooperation with SRI International. The primary objective of the mission is to use an onboard radar receiver in conjunction with a powerful radar station in Alaska to study the formation of a plasma anomaly known for causing the scintillation of radio signals in the UHF and higher bands. RAX carries a 9600 baud UHF digital transceiver. Using the call sign RAX-1, the satellite will send telemetry at 437.505 MHz. Amateurs are invited to download the free telemetry decoding software (for Windows, Mac OS X,or Linux) and submit reports at the mission Web site.

The Organism/Organic Exposure to Orbital Stresses satellite, better known as O/OREOS is a nanosatellite designed to study the growth, activity, health and ability of microorganisms to adapt to the stresses of space. It will also monitor changes in four classes of organic molecules as they are exposed to space conditions. O/OREOS transmits digital telemetry 437.305 MHz and hams are invited to submit raw telemetry data at the O/OREOS Web site.

NanoSail-D2 is a solar sail experiment with an expected lifetime of about 100 days. It carries a data beacon transmitting at 437.275 MHz. Amateurs are asked to submit reports at the NanoSail-D2 Web site. Although NanoSail-D2 was developed by NASA, mission control for this satellite, as well as O/ORES, is being handled by students at Santa Clara University.

 



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