Time running out to hear ARISSat-1

You don’t have long to try to tune into signals from the orbiting Amateur Radio satellite ARISSat-1. Here’s what you need to know about receiving some of the last signals from this ham radio satellite…

Update: ARISSat-1 re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere on 4th January 2012 and is believed to have impacted in the South Atlantic. This page is retained for historical purposes.

What is ARISSat-1?

It’s a box measuring 55 x 55 x 40 cm box. It’s one of the amateur radio satellites, and it’s part of the ARISS programme (Amateur Radio International Space Station) in orbit. The satellite was deployed from the International Space Station in August 2011, and it circles the earth approximately once every 90 minutes.

The signal is fairly easy to receive with basic receiving equipment – but not for long!

The end is nigh?

The orbit of ARISSat-01 is decaying by about 1.5 kilometres a day – The prediction is that the satellite will re-enter the atmosphere and burn up in January or February 2012. Before then, the satellite’s temperature will rise significantly, meaning it’s likely to go non-functional before then.

There may only be a couple of weeks left to have a listen to this piece of orbiting amateur radio history.

How to listen to ARISSat-1

Moonraker HT-90EIt’s easier than you may think. You need a 2 metre handheld receiver – even a handheld with a rubber duck aerial should be good enough.

You’ll need to tune in to 145.950MHz, which is the downlink frequency of the ARISSat-1 satellite.

The tricky bit is getting the timing right. As the satellite only orbits every 90 minutes or so, you have to wait until a suitable pass. Of course, the orbital path doesn’t take ARISSat-1 over us in the UK, and as we need line-of-sight, there are in general only a handful of opportunities a day to have a try, and the window is no more than 10 minutes per pass.

To find out when it’s worth a try, take a look at this site: www.amsat.org/amsat-new/tools/predict/index.php – This allows you to calculate when it’s worth trying. You’ll need to enter a  location to see when you’ll have line-of-sight. In Essex, try JO01fr (which is the Maidenhead locator for Chelmsford).

You’ll see times for AOS (Acquisition of Signal) and LOS (Loss of Signal) for each possible pass. Tune to 145.950MHz and listen out. Keep the squelch low, as the signal is weak

What you’ll hear

ARISSat-1 is broadcasting a loop which contains the following:

  • An audio announcement confirming it is ARISSat-1
  • One of a number of International greetings messages
  • Voice telemetry (temperature, battery voltage and current)
  • A Slow Scan TV (SSTV) image

Below is a short video, which contains the audio we captured from a pass on the 14th of November 2011, including the SSTV image that was in the transmission:


If you’ve not had a go, do try and have a listen to ARISSat-1. There’s an opportunity to get a certificate to confirm you’ve received the signal – although we’ve not received confirmation of two reports sent in November 2011.

For more on ARISSat-01, please go to http://www.arissat1.org/v3/

Related links

One Comment

  1. Pete M0PSX M0PSXAuthor 6 January 2012 Reply

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