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Amateur Radio Transponder Will Accompany Japanese Asteroid Mission into Deep Space


According to a news report, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Hayabusa 2 asteroid mission, now scheduled to launch in December, will carry the Abyss 2 (Shin’en 2) Amateur Radio satellite. A 17 kg, 50 cm diameter polyhedron, Shin’en 2, built by students at Kyushu Inistitute of Technology, makes extensive use of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic materials that can be bonded by heat to reduce its weight and the number of hardware fasteners. In addition to a Mode J linear transponder for Amateur Radio communication, Shin’en 2 will include CW and WSJT beacons. The inclusion of the transponder will offer an opportunity for earthbound radio amateurs to test the limits of their communication capabilities.

“For confirming the operational status of the spacecraft in deep space, the know-how of the Moon-reflecting communication technology can be applied. By using an Amateur Radio service transponder, amateur stations can communicate with each other when the spacecraft is in near-Moon orbit,” a project outline on the Shin’en 2 website explains. “Beyond this distance, signal detection by Morse code and telemetry data transmitted from the spacecraft will be performed.” The project is expected to help pave the way for future lunar rover missions.

Hayabusa 2 will make a round trip to the C-type asteroid 1999 JU3, arriving at the asteroid in mid-2018. It then would survey and take samples of the asteroid before departing in December 2019, and return to Earth in December 2020.

Shin’en 2 will be placed into an elliptical orbit around the Sun and travel into a deep space between Venus and Mars. Its inclination will be almost zero, which means Shin-En2 will stay in the Earth’s equatorial plane. The distance from the Sun will be between 0.7 and 1.3 AU (an astronomical unit is 149,597,871 km).

The IARU-coordinated frequencies for Shin’en 2 are: CW beacon, 437.505 MHz; WSJT telemetry, 437.385 MHz; Inverting SSB/CW transponder, 145.940-145.960 MHz uplink (LSB)/435.280-435.260 MHz downlink (USB). The project also is hoping to gather listener reports.

The ARTSAT2:DESPATCH satellite will be on the same launch. The satellite, a joint project by students at Tama Art University and Tokyo University, will carry a 30 kg “deep space sculpture” developed using a 3D printer, as well as an Amateur Radio payload, a CW beacon in the 435 MHz band. At its maximum operational distance, it will be some 3 million km (1.86 million miles) from Earth about a week after launch. — Thanks to AMSAT-UK





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