[Forum] NASA Seeks Amateur Radio Operators’ Aid to Listen for Nanosatellite’s Beacon Signal

Tom DF5JL df5jl at web.de
Fri Jan 21 10:49:36 CET 2011

Source: arrl.org (http://is.gd/jNwcSV)


On Wednesday, January 19 at 1630 UTC, engineers at Marshall Space Flight 
Center in Huntsville, Alabama confirmed that the NanoSail-D 
nanosatellite ejected from Fast Affordable Scientific and Technology 
Satellite (FASTSAT). According to NASA, the ejection event occurred 
spontaneously and when engineers at Marshall identified and analyzed 
onboard FASTSAT telemetry; the ejection of NanoSail-D also has been 
confirmed by ground-based satellite tracking assets. NASA is asking 
radio amateurs to listen on 437.270 MHz for the signal and verify 
NanoSail-D is operating. Hams should send information to the NanoSail-D 

NASA said that the NanoSail-D science team is hopeful the nanosatellite 
is healthy and can complete its solar sail mission. “This is great news 
for our team,” said Dean Alhorn, NanoSail-D principal investigator and 
aerospace engineer at the Marshall Center. “We’re anxious to hear the 
beacon which tells us that NanoSail-D is healthy and operating as 
planned. The science team is hopeful to see that NanoSail-D is 
operational and will be able to unfurl its solar sail.” As of Thursday, 
January 20, the NanoSail-D dashboard is reporting that beacon data has 
been received, but NASA still wants amateurs to track and report the 

On December 6, 2010, NASA triggered the planned ejection of NanoSail-D 
from FASTSAT. At that time, the team confirmed that the door 
successfully opened and data indicated a successful ejection. Upon 
further analysis, however, the team found no evidence of NanoSail-D in 
low-Earth orbit (LEO), leading them to believe NanoSail-D remained 
inside FASTSAT. The FASTSAT mission has continued to operate as planned 
with the five other scientific experiments operating nominally.

“We knew that the door opened and it was possible that NanoSail-D could 
eject on its own,” said FASTSAT Project Manager Mark Boudreaux. What a 
pleasant surprise [we had Wednesday morning] when our flight operations 
team confirmed that NanoSail-D is now a free flyer.”

If the deployment is successful, NASA said that NanoSail-D will stay in 
LEO between 70 and 120 days, depending on atmospheric conditions. 
NanoSail-D is designed to demonstrate deployment of a compact solar sail 
boom system that could lead to further development of this alternative 
solar sail propulsion technology and FASTSAT’s ability to eject a 
nanosatellite from a micro-satellite -- while avoiding re-contact with 
the FASTSAT satellite bus.  -- Thanks to NASA for the information

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