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ARRL Satellite Bulletin ARLS002 (2015)

ARLS002 Amateur Radio Payloads Share Ride into Space with Soil
Moisture Monitoring Satellite

QST de W1AW  
Space Bulletin 002  ARLS002
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington, CT  February 2, 2015
To all radio amateurs

ARLS002 Amateur Radio Payloads Share Ride into Space with Soil
Moisture Monitoring Satellite

Four NASA Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNA-X) CubeSats
carrying Amateur Radio payloads launched successfully January 31
from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. The primary payload for
the Delta II launcher was the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP)
satellite. SMAP's onboard radar will share Amateur Radio spectrum at
1.26 GHz. Amateur Radio is secondary on the 23 centimeter band,
which covers 1240 to 1300 MHz.

"This is a good example of a compatible sharing partner," ARRL CEO
David Sumner, K1ZZ, observed. "Any interference to amateur
communication in the band will be brief as the satellite passes

SMAP and the four CubeSats all deployed successfully. The research
CubeSats, launched on behalf of universities, will downlink their
telemetry on the 70 centimeter band. The CubeSats and their downlink
frequencies (modes) are:

Firebird II FU3  437.405 MHz (19k2 FSK)

Firebird I FU4  437.230 MHz (19k2 FSK)

GRIFEX  437.485 MHz (9k6 FSK)

ExoCube (CP-10)  437.270 MHz (9k6 FSK)

The GRIFEX satellite is a University of Michigan project, in
cooperation with JPL, while ExoCube (CP-10) is a space weather
satellite developed by the California Polytechnic State
University-San Luis Obispo and the University of Wisconsin in
partnership with NASA, and sponsored by the National Science

The FIREBIRD program is a collaborative CubeSat space weather
mission of two CubeSats designed and developed by Montana State
University, the University of New Hampshire, The Aerospace
Corporation, and Los Alamos National Laboratories - the FIREBIRD
consortium. The FIREBIRD mission also is funded by the NSF.

SMAP carries a "synthetic aperture radar." The L band (1.26 GHz)
radar is designed to measure backscatter off the Earth's surface.
The amount of backscatter returned to the radar changes with the
amount of moisture in the soil. RF pulses at this frequency are less
affected by weather or by a moderate vegetation cover.

The satellite is at approximately 425 miles up in a near-polar,
sun-synchronous orbit. SMAP also includes a radiometer operating at
1.41 GHz to measure naturally occurring RF energy given off by
Earth's surface.


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