NanoSailD completes ejection

Last month we were listening on 437.275 MHz, trying to confirm ejection of NanoSail-D from NASA’s FastSat. Nothing was heard, confirming that the sub-satellite had not separated. Time goes by. . . (just over a month actually) and as Wednesday afternoon comes around, Stan – N4PMF receives a request from Dean Alhorn to try listening again. (recent updates are noted in RED )
WB5RMG and N4PMF went to the club station and got ready for the 4:50 pm flyover. Shortly after Dean arrived we heard the first packet, and thought we were going to need to scrape Dean off the ceiling – he nearly exploded with joy.

Dean Alhorn sees first NanoSailD telemetryStan &

Can you tell Dean is happy ?

When he saw that we had received a string of telemetry, and had it on the screen, we thought he might cry. Words alone could not describe his elation.

NanoSailD tlm received at WA4NZD

Raw telemetry string as received

This one simple burst of ‘noise’ on the radio will help Dean and his team to determine more precisely what time the ejection took place, and from that – when to expect the sail to deploy. The FM amateur radio downlink on 437.275 MHz is the only source of spacecraft status (the exact center frequency may well be 437.270, and don’t forget – there can be a +/- 10 kHz doppler correction needed). More listeners are needed. The sail is set to deploy after 3 days (which is reported now to be sometime around 10pm EST -or 0300z 21 Jan). The battery may last a little beyond that. We need telemetry collected from all over the world. You can watch the status on the ‘Dashboard‘, and participate in ‘live science’ by submitting your captured data. You can also follow on Twitter.

The official mission page is :

Thanks Dean for letting us help you with this, as this is one of the many ways that this Amateur Radio Club can be a valuable asset to the Marshall Space Flight Center – and we were proud to participate.

9 responses to “NanoSailD completes ejection

  1. Pingback: BITLOG infotech hírek » Feléledt a NanoSail-D – rádióamatőrök kerestetnek!

  2. Alan and Stan,

    It was a pleasure working with you on such short notice. Maybe again tonight we can look for the bit flip for the sail opening. The MSFC station has such potential that can support many different possibilities. Maybe you could become an automated beacon station for Santa Clara’s ground network.

    Again thanks for everything.


  3. Pingback: NanoSail D überraschend aus FASTSAT geflutscht! « Skyweek Zwei Punkt Null

  4. Anyone going to the station tonight? I’d be glad to help out.

  5. Pingback: Urgent-- help find 'lost' solar sail via radio Ham Radio

  6. well.. nothing I have read, including the ARRL bulletin asking for listeners… none of that has said this is fm, ssb, or whatever!

    Will an FM receiver be useful?

    TNC? 1200 baud? 9600? ???

    I’ve searched and really can’t find this info, just the frequency.

    It would help people know what gear they need.

    A statement such as “hand held antenna” would work, or, super duper moonbounce station required! 🙂

    I’m sure the mode etc is somewhere in the where they built it stuff, but not in the more recent stuff.

  7. Mark,
    I had this same problem back in November when they first asked us if we might be able to help. I found a recording that sounded like regular 1200 baud AFSK packet. This is the most common mode for packet, which I’m sure is how it was selected. I tried in this article to include as much of that as I could, and most of that detail is above, but I failed to say it was 1200 baud. As with a lot of ham stuff, try the default (easiest) first, and then vary that if it doesn’t work. The transmitter is only about a 1/2 watt, and it has been heard with a hand-held, but some gain will be helpful if you want to decode the data. Unfortunately too much gain can also be a problem, as it is easy to be off a few degrees, and not have enough signal. This is what science is all about, find what works…
    Good luck, and above all – Have Fun .!!. 73 for now /;^)

  8. Congratulations all! Persistence pays off; and you guys are nothing if not persistent! Thanks for resurrecting WA4NZD, and for being there at the right time!

    Chuck, N4NM

  9. We had a blast last night tracking NanoSail-D and decoding the telemetry. I did a posting to my blog today about how we came to be involved. I saw that the satellite went silent this morning but I’ll be going outside shortly (at -37 degrees C!) to see if it is visible.
    John – VE8EV

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