International Amateur Radio Union Region 1

2011 Regional Conference – Sun City, South Africa

12 to 19 August 2011

                                              

ARSPEX WG ACTIVITY REPORT

 

 

  1. ARISS working group

IARU Region 1 societies and AMSAT societies are invited to join the ARISS-Europe working group. Presently ARISS-Europe’s  member societies are:

AMSAT-Belgium           Belgium

AMSAT-CT                   Portugal

AMSAT France             France

AMSAT-Italy                 Italy

AMSAT-SM                  Sweden

AMSAT-UK                   United Kingdom

ARI                              Italy

DARC                          Germany

MARL                          Malta

PZK                             Poland

RAL                             Lebanon

REF-Union                    France

REP                             Portugal

RSGB                          Great Brittain

UBA                             Belgium

USKA                          Switzerland

 

 

  1. ARISS School Contacts

The main activity of the ARISS international organization is educational outreach. Teachers, parents and communities see, first hand, how Amateur Radio and crewmembers on International Space Station can energize youngsters' interest in science, technology and learning.

This activity is highly appreciated and supported by the Space Agencies: NASA, ESA, CSA, JAXA and Roscosmos.

ARISS School Contacts are a powerful means to present amateur radio to the general public from a most favourable perspective. Positive comments from the mass media are very helpful too.

Schools requesting an ARISS radio contact are invited to present a science oriented educational project. This is a prerequisite for being accepted on the waiting list. Local amateur radio clubs often collaborate with schools on such projects.

Shortly after his arrival aboard the ISS on December 17th 2010, ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli sent a photo from the ISS to the amateur radio community, wishing ARISS a Happy Birth Day. Indeed, on 21 December 2000, astronaut William Shepherd turned from his usual activities aboard the newly occupied International Space Station. Floating over to a “ham” radio attached to a station bulkhead, he called the Burbank School in Burbank, Illinois and was soon talking with 14 enthusiastic students.

Since December 2000, more than 600 ARISS School Contacts have been successfuly performed wordwide, 245 in Region 1. Moreover, cosmonauts contacted school in Russia. 

Over these 10 years, amateur radio offered 600 schools in 40 countries and 5 continents a space talk, allowing thousands of students to share a moment of history. Tens of thousands of students, faculty, and parents have participated by planning and attending these events.


  1. ARISS mentors

When a waiting school is selected for an upcoming ARISS School Contact, the ARISS Operations Committee nominates a "mentor", in charge of preparing the school for the event. This takes about two months. The mentor interfaces with the school and the local radio amateurs. His work is done by phone and e-mail.

      Presently, ARISS-Europe mentors are: 

Peter Kofler, IN3GHZ

Christophe Candebat, F1MOJ

Howard Long, G6LVB

Francesco de Paolis, IK0WGF

Marco Pernic, 9A8MM  

Eskil van Loosdrecht, SM5SRR

 

 

  1. European Parliament Brussels Exhibition

In 2010, an IARU Region 1 Exhibition was set up in the European Parliament, Brussels at the initiative of the EUROCOM working group in collaboration with the ARSPEX working group. 

Tuesday 27 April 2010, 12 students of the European School, Brussels were invited to visit the Exhibition set up by the International Amateur Radio Union in collaboration with the European Space Agency in the European Parliament, Brussels and sponsored by MEP Birgit Sippel from Germany. The Exhibition's name was "European Amateur Radio Benefiting Society" and the thematics were Emergency, Education and Space.

The students, aged 14-18, accompanied by two science teachers, were welcomed by ARISS Chairman Gaston Bertels, ON4WF who introduced the event with a general presentation on the orbital and technical aspects of VHF communications between amateur radio ground stations and the ISS. The students asked many interesting questions while they observed the projection of the world map showing the ISS progressing towards Buenos Aires, Argentina.

An ARISS contact was planned at 12.57 UTC. The radio contact was a telebridge, operated by Adrian Sinclair's ARISS ground station LU1CGB. When Adrian started calling NA1SS, the audience kept their breath. US astronaut Timothy Creamer, KC5WKI answered immediately and the exchange of questions and answers began. All questions were answered and greetings and thanks exchanged.  

In the European School, located in the outskirts of Brussels, an audience of students and teachers followed the space talk by listening in to the teleconference.

In the European Parliament, several MEP and assistants, parents working in the European Commission, as well as representatives of the European Space Agency, assisted to the event.

The contact was distributed over EchoLink and IRLP networks by John Spasojevitch, AG9D.

Two hours later, three space travellers, representing three Space Agencies, visited the Exhibition: ISS Commander Frank De Winne ON1DWN , Robert Thirsk VA3CSA and Roman Romanenko. Thirty more students from several schools joined the audience, as well as several MEP and assistants. Among them former cosmonaut Vladimir Remek, now member of the European Parliament representing the Czech Republic.

 

  1. ESA plans installation of ham radio equipment on Columbus

VHF and UHF Ericsson transceivers, already onboard, are slated to be installed in the European Space Laboratory Columbus, now integrated in the International Space Station.

These transceivers will use the ARISS built VHF/UHFantenna that was installed on Columbus earlier, by EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity).

  


  1. ESA considers HamTV

The European Space Agency presently examines the possibility to install a Digital Amateur Television transmitter on Columbus.

This S-Band “HamTV” transmitter would use one of the ARISS L/S-band antennas installed on the nadir of Columbus. 

An ad-hoc ARISS working group has been set up, dubbed ARCOL WG, which meets via teleconference and studies the many technical aspects of DATV (Digital Amateur Television) transmitted from a LEO satellite, the ISS navigating on a Low Earth Orbit.

If this project comes to achievement, ARISS school contacts will be enhanced with video and interested radio amateurs will have a challenging study object at their disposal.

 

  1. ARISSat-1

February 3, 2003,  Russian cosmonaut Tokarev launched, by hand, from the International Space Station, SuitSat-1/Radioskaf, a discarded Russian Orlan Space Suit. converted into an amateur radio satellite.

This mission captured the imagination of people and students around the world and plans were quickly made to build a second SuitSat, more Russian space suits being discarded. Unluckily, due to a lack of space onboard the ISS, two Orlan space suits had to be discarded before the new radio equipment was ready.  None the less, the project was not abandoned, but converted into an amateur satellite to be hand launched from the ISS. A new name was chosen: ARISSat-1/Radioskaf B.

The Russian describe it as Earth artificial satellite (EAS) Kedr, named after Yuri Gagarin’s call sign Kedr during his historical flight.  

Built by AMSAT NA, to be launched from the ISS by two Russian cosmonauts, ARISSat-1 comprises:

-          a Linear Transponder, mode V/U (70 cm Up, 2m Down), to be worked with a QRP transmitter and omni antennas

-          a Digital Beacon transmitting experimental telemetry data in BPSK-1000 format

-          a CW Beacon

-          FM Voice Telemetry and SSTV in Robot-36 format

-          24 FM Voice Greetings, mostly children, in 15 different languages (English, Russian, French, Italian, Dutch, German, Swedish, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Catalan, Bengali, Hebrew, Nepalese,). Some greetings comprise a “secret” word.

If this mission is successful, it will not only be an interesting amateur radio experiment, but it can, if duly set to work by the amateur radio community, become a powerful means to promote amateur radio in schools.

 

  1. FUNcube

With a goal similar to that of ARISSat-1, AMSAT UK is developing FUNcube. FUNcube is an educational cubesat project which is intended to enthuse, excite and educate young people about radio, space, physics and electronics. It will support other educational Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths (STEM) initiatives.

 

FUNcube’s primary mission is to provide downlink telemetry that can be easily received by schools and colleges for educational outreach purposes.

 

The main target audience is students, at both primary and secondary levels, and the project includes the development of a simple and cheap “ground station” operating on VHF frequencies in the Amateur Satellite Service.

      

This “station” will simply be a USB dongle which will receive the signals direct from the satellite and transfer the data to specially developed graphical software running on any Windows laptop. The required antenna will be no more than a basic VHF dipole.

 

The telemetry will provide information about:

-     On board temperatures – internal and external.

-         Voltages and currents flowing from the solar arrays and to/from the battery.

-         Temperatures from external metal strips which have different finishes to provide an enhanced demonstration of the “Leslie’s Cube” experiment. (One of the traditional demonstrations of how objects emit heat) 

 

Additional educational objectives and opportunities offered by the project include:

-          “Whole Orbit Data” for orbit illumination/eclipse demonstrations.

-          More advanced demonstrations relating to antenna radiation patterns and levels of solar radiation.

-          Long term effects of radiation on microcircuits and other subjects would also be possible.

-          Integration into the maths and physics curricula at primary and secondary levels

-          Demonstrations of radio communications at schools

-          Involvement of university undergraduates for more advanced studies – “ranging” etc

 

The FUNcube project also includes the development of suitable software to enable the display of the telemetry data and orbital tracking/prediction information and actual satellite attitude in an interesting and lively way. The display software will be developed in collaboration with teachers and will be available in different “flavours” to accommodate a variety of age groups.

 

In addition to displaying the telemetry, the software will also have a live “tracking map” display with predictions for the particular school location and be capable of visually showing the spacecraft attitude and spin rates etc.

 

The payload will also enable the uploading (indirectly via a moderated host) of short greetings messages for schools to use and the deposition of the data received by a school on a central database.

  

Measuring just 10x10x10 cm, and with a mass of less than 1kg it will be the smallest satellite ever to carry such a sophisticated communications payload

                                   

When the satellite is “in eclipse” it will normally operate as a normal U/V linear transponder for use by radio amateurs.

 

The project commenced in October 2009 and it is planned that the built and verified satellite will be ready for launch by mid 2011.

 

 

 

  1. GENSO (Global Educational Network for Satellite Operations)

GENSO is a project initiated under the auspices of the International Space Education Board (ISEB).  This board consists of the Education Departments of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), CNES (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales) , the European Space Agency (ESA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the National Aeronatics and Space Administration (NASA).

The project is managed by the Education Projects Division of ESA.

GENSO aims to increase the return from educational space missions by forming a worldwide network of ground stations and spacecraft which can interact via a software standard. This will fundamentally change the way that these missions are managed, dramatically increasing the level of access to orbital educational spacecraft.

Educational space missions are often hampered by the relatively small communication windows offered by their typically low orbits and local ground stations.

GENSO is a software standard which allows each ground station on the network to communicate with non-local spacecraft and share data with the spacecraft controllers via the internet. This will allow for a near global coverage in communication for every educational satellite launched, greatly increasing the return from educational space missions and the opportunities for sending commands to the spacecraft.

The design and implementation work is being carried out by a distributed set of student and radio amateur teams worldwide and with over 80 educational spacecraft currently planned there is a very large demand for such a project. 

All student groundstation teams already include one or more radio amateurs and many students are obtaining their licences as a result of this activity.

 

A definition of a reference ground station has been undertaken by a team from AMSAT UK members 

- Graham Shirville, G3VZV, coordinator

- John Rivett, M3RRX

- David Johnson, G4DPZ

- Jim  Heck, G3WGM

This team has already implemented the installation of a ground station at the ISU (International Space University) and further stations are planned for installation at the ESA ESTEC and ESOC facilities

Close cooperation of the Amateur Radio Service with the Educational Services of the Space Agencies paves the way to a new generation of highly qualified radio amateurs or at the very least ensures that the next generation of space engineers and managers will be “amateur friendly”. Additionally it also opens an interesting field of activity for all hams with a passion for Space Exploration.

 

 

  1. QB50 project

 

The QB50 project is being developed by von Karman Institute for fluid dynamics in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the USA National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

QB50 is an international network of 50 CubeSats for multi-point, in-situ measurements in the lower thermosphere and re-entry research.

Scientific objectives:

·         to study in situ the temporal and spatial variations of a number of key parameters in the lower thermosphere at 90-300 km altitude with a network of about 50 CubeSats, separated by a few hundred kilometres and carrying identical sensors

·         to study the re-entry process by measuring a number of key parameters during re-entry and by comparing predicted and actual CubeSat trajectories and orbital lifetimes.

A CubeSat is simply too small to also carry sensors for significant scientific research. Hence, for the universities the main objective of developing, launching and operating a CubeSat is educational. However, when combining a large number of CubeSats with identical sensors into a network, in addition to the educational value, fundamental scientific questions can be addressed which are inaccessible otherwise. Networks of CubeSats have been under discussion in the CubeSat community for several years, but so far no university, institution or space agency has taken the initiative to set up and coordinate such a powerful network.

For the QB50 network, double CubeSats (10x10x20 cm) are foreseen, with one half providing the usual satellite functions and the other half accommodating a set of identical sensors for lower thermosphere and re-entry research. All 50 CubeSats will be launched together on a single launch vehicle (a Russian Shtil-2.1 or Shtil-2R) into a circular orbit at about 300 km altitude, inclination 79º. The payload mass is about 200 kg (100 kg for the CubeSats, 80 kg for the CubeSat deployment system, 20 kg margin). Due to atmospheric drag, the orbits of the CubeSats will decay and progressively lower and lower layers of the thermosphere will be explored, perhaps down to 90 km. The initial orbital altitude will be selected so that the mission lifetime of the individual CubeSats will be about three months. 34 CubeSats are envisaged to be provided by European universities in 19 countries, 11 by universities in the US, 2 by universities in Canada and 3 by Japanese universities. The hardware cost of a CubeSat is in the range 100 - 200 k€.

By the time QB50 CubeSats will be launched, GENSO will be fully operational. It will comprise more than 100 amateur radio ground stations in different parts of the world, providing nearly continuous uplink and downlink capability for all QB50 CubeSats. The amateur radio contribution to the GENSO project is being developed by an AMSAT UK working group under Graham Shirville G3VZV's leadership.

 

 

  1. ARSPEX Bulletins

 

Since the Cavtat Conference in 2008, 215 ARISS-Europe News Bulletins were circulated to more than 1400 subscribers.

 

Most News Bulletins were also posted on the IARU Region 1 website.

 

 

 

 

 

            Respectfully submitted

 

Gaston Bertels, ON4WF

ARSPEX WG chairman