Amateur Deep Space Tracking

This is a copy of a message send by PA0DLO to the Amsat-BB mailing list with information on how to track Satellites carrying amateur radio payloads that will go into deep space.

All,

Many radio amateurs are familiar with tracking amateur satellites that orbit the Earth in low orbits or high elliptical orbits. Several tracking programs and all required orbital parameters are available for tracking these satellites.

But soon spacecraft carrying an amateur radio payload will be launched towards the Moon and beyond. If amateurs want to track these spacecraft they will need suitable tracking software and orbital elements to be able to calculate the positions of these spacecraft.

Calculations

Unfortunately none of the currently available tracking programs, used for satellite tracking by amateurs, is suitable for deep space tracking. But fortunately two free, open source software packages for Windows, Linux and Mac are available, that will enable deep space tracking:

General Mission Analysis Tool (GMAT)
http://gmatcentral.org/
https://sourceforge.net/projects/gmat/files/GMAT/GMAT-R2017a/

SciLab, including CelestLab, CelestLabX and Aerospace Blockset
http://www.scilab.org/
http://atoms.scilab.org/toolboxes/celestlab
https://atoms.scilab.org/toolboxes/aerospace_blockset

Probably most amateurs will prefer GMAT, because it is most user friendly, has a lot of documentation and help files, and contains many sample scripts. Scripts that are created by other amateurs can be used without having much knowledge or experience with GMAT.

Measurements

It is not certain that orbital elements for all deep space spacecraft carrying amateur radio payloads will be made available to radio amateurs. Therefore amateurs may need to measure these orbital elements themselves through doppler and ranging measurements. So amateurs will need to set up their own Amateur Deep Space Network, similar to NASA’s DSN, ESA’s Estrack, etc. This will require some stations with large enough antennas and with equipment to carry out doppler and ranging measurements to determine direction and distance to the spacecraft. This new development is an interesting challenge for radio amateurs.

For further details see my Amateur Deep Space Tracking page:
https://hamsat1.home.xs4all.nl/index.html

You can find further information on space flight on this very informative set of pages:
https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/basics/
Deep space navigation is covered in chapter 13:
https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/basics/chapter13-1/

Source: Nico PA0DLO

Some extra information by Daniel Estevez (EA4GPZ)
http://destevez.net/2018/05/dslwp-bs-journey-to-the-moon-part-i/

Should you be a part …

Amsat-NA FOX LogoShould you be a part of the AMSAT Community or an AMSAT Organisation?

There are plenty of people who operate on the amateur radio satellites who can identify as being part of the AMSAT community. Many of them are what I’d consider active operators – those heard on passes multiple times in a week or any given month.

The complex question I pose today is “what is the difference between the AMSAT community and the AMSAT organization and why does it matter?”

The AMSAT community of operators isn’t launching satellites. AMSAT organizations with donors and volunteers are launching satellites.

Being active on the birds does not mean you are supporting the AMSAT community. It means you are active in the community as a whole. That’s great. People know your callsign, your name, and have you in their log. That doesn’t get new satellites built and launched. Sending a few emails to the AMSAT-BB or other email lists doesn’t exactly count as volunteering to help the AMSAT organization grow, improve, and make launch goals.

I’m not the most active AMSAT volunteer on the planet. I’ve been trying to do a few hamfests a year, write some Journal articles, keep my membership current, and make an occasional donation. I tend to think every little bit of support helps – no matter what role you play. I encourage new operators to join an AMSAT organization with a vision and a proven track record.

AMSAT-NA is one such organisation. They have successfully launched multiple satellites over their many years of existence. If you are not a member, you should be. That is the “minimum” you should do as an active member of the AMSAT community. If you are located in another region with an AMSAT-affiliated organisation planning a new satellite, join them and get involved. Don’t sit on your duff and brag about how active you are.

Remember, satellites are an infrastructure-based operating environment like repeaters. Infrastructure has an associated cost.

AMSAT-UK LogoOriginal post: Blog W5PFG

I asked Clayton W5PFG to share his post and he didn’t mind. With this blog I/we hope to inform many amateur radio operators that use the Amsat satellites to think of becoming a member and keep this part of our hobby alive.

Organisation examples: Amsat-NA, Amsat-UK, Amsat-DL, Amsat-SE, Amsat-NL, etc

Amsat-UK Space Colloquium Webcast

AMSAT-UK LogoI would love to visit the Amsat-UK Colloquium but I am unable to. Therefor the Webcast that is made possible by the volunteers from BATC gives me the second best possibility to follow this Amsat-UK event.

So if you can’t get to Guildford then the webcast provides the next best thing.

Watch live via this link. (view stream AMSAT 2013)

The schedule, times in BST (GMT+1), is at Colloquium 2013 Schedule


Homepage and other references:

Amsat-UK Colloquium 2013 information.

AMSAT-DL Symposium 2012

Amsat-DL Bochum13 Oktober 2012
AMSAT-DL Symposium 2012
im Radom des IUZ

Blankensteiner Straße 200a
44797 Bochum Germany

Program:

Time CEST Vortag
10:00 – 11:00 Mike Rupprecht, DK3WN – Neues von den “Kleinen” und seine Arbeit als Satellitenkoordinator für die IARU
11:00 – 12:00 William Leijenaar, PA1RAH – Transpondertechnik für Cubesats
12:00 – 13:00 Mario Lorenz, DL5MLO – Neues von STEREO und erstes privates Weltraumteleskop MPST
13:00 – 14:00 Mittagspause (Imbiss vor Ort)
14:00 – 16:00 Mitgliederversammlung der AMSAT Deutschland e.V. – Gäste sind herzlich willkommen!

  • aktueller Status von AMSAT P3-E und P5-A (Mars/Mond)
  • Vorstandsbericht
  • Aussprache, Verschiedenes