Happy New Year from space

ESA astronaut Tim Peake wishes Earth a happy new year from the International Space Station.

Tim is spending six months in space to maintain the Space Station and run experiments for scientists on Earth. His Principia mission will see him perform over 30 experiments for European scientists alone.

Follow Tim and his mission via timpeake.esa.int.

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The Alps in Winter

European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut and Expedition 46 Flight Engineer Tim Peake (@astro_timpeake) photographed the Alps from orbit on Dec. 27, 2015 and later shared the image with his social media followers, writing, "There may not be much snow in the Alps this winter but they still look stunning from here! #Principia"

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Tim Peake Sandringham School Contact

Sandringham School pupils with Foundation certificates - Credit VARC Greg Beacher M0PPG

Sandringham School pupils with Foundation certificates – Credit VARC Greg Beacher M0PPG

The first Amateur Radio school contact by UK astronaut Tim Peake GB1SS from the International Space Station (ISS) will take place on Friday, January 8, 2016 at 0847 GMT with students at Sandringham School, St. Albans in Hertfordshire. The school will use the call sign GB1SAN.

The St. Albans based Verulam Amateur Radio Club (VARC) ran a ‘Foundation Licence’ course in December. Three of the candidates were pupils from Sandringham School who took the course in preparation for the contact with Tim Peake.

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) logo

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) logo

The ISS HamTV will not be available for the Sandringham School contact because the ISS Digital Amateur Television (DATV) system will be turned off to permit other experiments.

You’ll be able to listen to Tim Peake GB1SS on the 145.800 MHz FM downlink with a simple handheld radio or you can listen online by using the SUWS WebSDR radio at http://websdr.suws.org.uk/

Tim Peake ISS School Contacts Announced http://amsat-uk.org/2015/12/15/tim-peake-iss-school-contacts-announced/

Verulam Amateur Radio Club http://www.verulam-arc.org.uk/

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Reading the Alphabet From Space

NASA's Earth Observatory has tracked down images resembling all 26 letters of the English alphabet using only NASA satellite imagery and astronaut photography. In this image, the letter 'Y' is for yardangs, elongated landforms sculpted by erosion and similar to sand dunes, but instead comprised of sandstone or siltstone.

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Boulders on a Martian Landslide

The striking feature in this image, acquired by the HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on March 19, 2014, is a boulder-covered landslide along a canyon wall. Landslides occur when steep slopes fail, sending a mass of soil and rock to flow downhill, leaving behind a scarp at the top of the slope.

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Another EO-79 Transponder Activation

EO-79 and EO-80 - Image Credit ISIS

EO-79 and EO-80 – Image Credit ISIS

The EO-79 SSB/CW transponder will be active from Monday, December 28 until Thursday, December 31.

The first activation has shown the transponder uplink frequency is about 12 kHz higher than expected. The suggested frequencies to try are now:
Uplink: 435.047-435.077 MHz LSB
Downlink: 145.935-145.965 MHz USB

The team has seen that activating the transponder makes the satellite power negative, meaning the solar arrays can not generate enough power to keep the transponder running permanently. This is not unexpected as the satellite is operating in a different mode than originally anticipated during the design phase.

The team are discussing various ways to solve this, including multiple ways of scheduling the transponder operations. With these discussions ongoing we would still like to try the second activation and obtain some more data about the system. The team aim to activate the transponder for as much time as the power budget allows, but please be aware that you may find the transponder to be off while the batteries recharge.

EO-79 has been set to only beacon the normal AX.25 beacon every 30 seconds instead of 10 seconds. The beacon frequency is 145.815 MHz and consists of AX.25 frames on BPSK. More details about the downlink can be found on the ISIS Ham Radio page at http://isispace.nl/HAM/qb50p.html

We kindly request you to share your experiences with the AMSAT Bulletin Board so everyone can benefit from operating tips and tricks, as well as being up-to-date on the status.

We would also welcome any observation related to the transponder behaviour when the AX.25 beacon comes on.

Just like FUNcube-1, the crystal oscillator circuits exhibit drift with temperature. This means manual tuning will probably work best.

Graham Shirville G3VZV says that due to platform sharing considerations the FUNcube transponder on EO-79 uses 1/4 wave monopole antennas rather than the full dipoles used on AO-73. The actual effects of this difference in practice may be interesting to observe.

TLEs:
AMSAT keps name: EO-79
Celestrak keps name: QB50P1
Celestrak file: cubesat.txt
NORAD #  40025
COSPAR designator: 2014-033-R

SatPC32 tracking software Doppler SQF information used by Peter VK4NBL:
EO-79,145950,435063,USB,LSB,REV,0,0
EO-79,145814.8,435070,CW,TELEMETRY,0,0

Real-time track of EO-79 (QB50p1) http://www.n2yo.com/?s=40025&df=1

AMSAT Bulletin Board (AMSAT-BB) http://www.amsat.org/mailman/listinfo/amsat-bb

Satellite Tracking http://amsat-uk.org/beginners/satellite-tracking/

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ESA – Year in Images

Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti IZ0UDF points at the Dargon spacecraft she just grappled on April 17, 2015 with the 16m-long ISS robotic arm

Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti IZ0UDF points at the Dargon spacecraft she just grappled on April 17, 2015 with the 16m-long ISS robotic arm

ESA has released a selection of favourite images from 2015, they include International Space Station astronauts Samantha Cristoforetti IZ0UDF and Tim Peake KG5BVI / GB1SS.

The images can be downloaded in high resolution by clicking on the “Access the image” link at the bottom of each image page.

ESA Year in Images http://www.esa.int/Highlights/Year_in_images

Astronaut Tim Peake KG5BVI / GB1SS giving the thumbs up shortly after his arrival on the ISS

Astronaut Tim Peake KG5BVI / GB1SS giving the thumbs up shortly after his arrival on the ISS

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