Radar Observations of Near-Earth Asteroid 2004 BL86

On 2015 January 26, the near-Earth asteroid 2004 BL86 will pass within 0.008 AU of Earth (3.1 times as far away as the Moon).  This will be the closest approach to Earth by this asteroid for at least the next 240 years.

As part of an extensive campaign of radar observations to learn about
BL86’s shape, spin state, and surface; and to refine knowledge of its trajectory; the Arecibo Observatory’s S-band planetary radar plans to illuminate the asteroid with a continuous-wave signal over 2015 January 27 03:45 – 04:00 UTC.  Over that time, BL86’s radar echo will be received by elements of the Very Long Baseline Array and the Very Large Array in New Mexico.  Anyone with an antenna and receiver capable of detecting the echo is welcome to listen in.

BL86 will be above the horizon for most observers in North and South America, and for some parts of western Europe and western Africa. To readily detect its radar echo, observers should have an antenna with an effective collecting area of at least 10 square meters. BL86 will be moving rapidly across the sky.  Over Jan 27 03:45 – 04:00, it will move by ~0.5º.  The asteroid’s exact position on the sky will depend on where it is observed from as well as the time, but will be near (RA,Dec) = (130º,+17º).  A current ephemeris can be obtained from JPL’s Horizons system:
http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/?horizons.

The Arecibo transmission will be tuned to give a nominal echo center frequency of exactly 2380 MHz at geocenter.  Without correction for Earth’s rotation, BL86’s radar echo will appear as slowly-drifting and within 15 kHz of 2380 MHz.  Predicted echo frequency as a function of time for a given location can be obtained on-request by emailing Michael Busch (mbusch@seti.org).  We expect an echo bandwidth of 6 Hz or less.

Details of the BL86 radar observing campaign at the Arecibo Observatory, NASA’s Goldstone Solar System Radar facility, and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory are available at:
http://echo.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroids/2004BL86/2004BL86_planning.html.

AMSAT 2014 Space Symposium’s Keynote Speaker will be Jan King, W3GEY

AMSAT Founding Member Jan King, W3GEY

AMSAT Founding Member Jan King, W3GEY

The AMSAT Space Symposium’s Keynote Speaker with be Jan King, W3GEY, founding member of AMSAT and former member of the Board of Directors & V.P. of Engineering. Jan’s keynote speech, entitled “Never, Never, Never Give Up!” will be presented during the Symposium banquet on Saturday October 11. As a teaser for his speech, Jan shared the following with our symposium team:

” So very much has changed in 45 years! For starters, our hobby of 1968 has become an industry. Launch vehicles can’t be had for the price of a NASA Administrator’s letter anymore. Launch costs are $100K per kilogram now.  ITAR? Not worth discussing. So, what do we do? Is it time to say, “We had a really good run at this” and let it go? We showed some people who cared and wanted to listen that you can do a lot with a little. Should we call it quits and give it up? There are those who ask me questions that start with, “Back in your day….?” It is particularly those people, I’d like to show…that we really

Jan King, W3GEY, prepares AMSAT-OSCAR 7 for a vibration test.

Jan King, W3GEY, prepares AMSAT-OSCAR 7 for a vibration test.

are made of the right stuff. We still have things we know that Government Experts and wide-eyed university graduate students don’t. Silicon Valley is now filled with satellite experts who aren’t. The average university graduating electrical engineer still can’t make a 2 meter pre-amp with a 1 dB noise figure, and wouldn’t know how to start. Unless, of course, they figured it out from the Internet. Ah yes, the Internet! Another small change since 1968. We’ll talk about it in October. Hope to see you in Baltimore. W3GEY.”

Space Symposium Auction Announced

Greetings Amateur Radio in Space Enthusiasts!

2014 AMSAT Symposium

2014 AMSAT Symposium

At this year’s AMSAT Space Symposium, we are trying a few new things and we hope you will enjoy them.  One exciting facet we are adding this year is an auction.  All proceeds from the auction will support AMSAT’s two major initiatives—the development and launch of the FOX satellite series and the ARISS program.

As we prepare for the auction, we are asking for your help in donating specialty items for auction (minimum value $100) that will attract symposium attendee’s attention and get them bidding up the item price.  If you have any items that are ham related (no boat anchors please), items of historical value, space related and/or autographed items, or even sports tickets or time shares, we would love to get your donations.  Think out of the box on this—what exciting things would you like to see in this auction?

If you have something to donate to the Symposium auction, please send an e-mail to Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, who will work with you on getting your item or items into the auction.   Frank’s e-mail address is ka3hdo at verizon.net

This auction, while adding a fun experience to the AMSAT Space Symposium experience, will also serve to keep amateur radio’s spirit thriving in space through its donations to FOX and ARISS.

On behalf of AMSAT, I thank you for your donations in advance.  And I encourage each of you to attend and participate in this year’s AMSAT Space Symposium to be held in Baltimore Maryland Oct 10-12.  For more information, see:

http://www.amsat.org/?page_id=1555

73 from Your Symposium Committee Co-Chairs:

Frank Bauer, KA3HDO and Janet Bauer

Possible ISS Voice Contacts on Field Day

ariss_logoARISS NEWS RELEASE   no. 14-02
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
David Jordan, AA4KN – ARISS Public Relations

Current discussions between the ARISS team and NASA suggest the possibility of voice contacts with the International Space Station (ISS) during Saturday’s ARRL Field Day activities this coming weekend.

In a June 23 email, Kenneth Ransom, the ISS Ham Radio payload developer, stated “I have received a response from astronaut (Reid) Wiseman that he is willing to try and work some stations on Saturday. Pass times begin very soon after the start of Field day.” Wiseman would operate under the call sign, NA1SS. Should Alex Gerst participate, he would use the call sign, DP0ISS.

If voice operation does occur, It will likely take place from the Columbus (COL) module using the standard Region 2 uplink frequency of 144.49 MHz and 145.800 MHz for downlink. It’s expected that the packet system will be operational on 145.825 MHz during periods when the crew is not available.

It’s not clear whether any of the Russian crew would participate from the Russian module, but if so, they would be directed to use 437.550 MHz for any contacts using the call sign RS0ISS. The COL would also be available to their crew using the VHF frequencies above, if Wiseman is not operating.

Listed below are approximate pass times and a chart showing ISS passes for the Field Day weekend. The pass times shown are not definite, scheduled times with the crew. They may or may not be able to support these times. And, updates to this tentative plan will be released as they become available.

Saturday, June 28:

Click for full size image. Each segment starts and ends when the U.S. coastline is  on the horizon of the ISS.

Click for full size image. Each segment starts and ends when the U.S. coastline is on the horizon of the ISS.

  • N. America (18:11-18:33 UTC)
  • Hawaii (19:36 – 19:47 UTC)
  • N. America (19:48-20:10 UTC)