January 30th - SuitSat
To Transmit Live Information From Space...
Friday, February 3rd astronauts onboard the
International Space Station will throw a spacesuit
acting as a satellite overboard. SuitSat
can be heard by anyone on the ground. "All
you need is an antenna and a radio receiver that
you can tune to 145.990 MHz FM.
equipped a Russian Orlan spacesuit with three
batteries, a radio transmitter, and internal
sensors to measure temperature and battery
power," says Frank Bauer of NASA's
Goddard Space Flight Center. "As SuitSat
circles Earth, it will transmit its condition to
a normal spacewalk, with a human inside the suit,
SuitSat's temperature controls will be turned off
to conserve power. The suit, arms and legs akimbo,
possibly spinning, will be exposed to the fierce
rays of the sun with no way to regulate its
in our area and across the world can listen in to
the live transmissions from space. A police band
scanner or a hand-held ham radio should work just
fine. Students, scouts, teachers and ham radio
operators are encouraged to tune in.
Observers in the
United States will find that SuitSat passes
overhead once or twice a day—usually between
midnight and 4 o'clock in the morning. At that
time of day, SuitSat and the ISS will be in
Earth's shadow and, thus, too dark to see with the
naked eye. You'll need a radio to detect them.
antenna to the sky during the 5-to-10 minute
flyby," advises Bauer, and this is what
transmits for 30 seconds, pauses for 30 seconds,
and then repeats. "This is SuitSat-1,
RS0RS," the transmission begins, followed by
a prerecorded greeting in five languages.
telemetry: temperature, battery power, mission
elapsed time. "The telemetry is stated in
plain language—in English," says Bauer.
Everyone will be privy to SuitSat's condition.
Bauer adds, "Suitsat 'talks' using a voice
synthesizer. It's pretty amazing."
utility to find out when SuitSat will pass over
your area. The online program will ask for your
zip code—that's all. Then it will tell you when
the ISS is going to orbit over your area. (Be sure
to click the "options" button and select
"all passes.") Because the ISS and
SuitSat share similar orbits, predictions for one
will serve for the other.
batteries to expected last 2 to 4 days, although
longer is possible. After that, SuitSat will begin
a slow silent spiral into Earth's atmosphere.
Weeks or months later, no one knows exactly when,
it will become a brilliant fireball over some part
of Earth—a fitting end for a trailblazer.
flyby times for the Storm Mountain and surrounding
area are as follows:
3rd - 4:39 to 4:49AM
Saturday, February 4th - 3:28 to 3:38AM
Sunday, February 5th - 3:52 to
Monday, February 6th - 2:41 to