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Space Science

Satellite Back From The Dead 176

Posted by Hemos
from the return-of-the-living-satellite dept.
Papa Legba writes "Just ran across this amazing story about an amateur satellite that has returned from the dead. AMSAT-OSCAR 7 was launched in 1974 for radio hobbyists to use. In 1981 the onboard batteries died and the satellite went silent. Then on June 21st 2002, 20 years later, a hobbyist testing some new equipment made an amazing discovery. AMSAT-OSCAR 7 is live once more, both broadcasting and accepting signals. The theory expounded is that the dead battery short that took the satellite offline has cleared and it is now only running on its solar cells. While this does restrict it to daytime use, it is amazing that it works at all. " This was in the science section before - but worth the front page.
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Satellite Back From The Dead

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  • by Jedi Paramedic (587254) on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @01:36PM (#3763712)
    to see if it came back attached to a planet-sized ship like in STTMP?
  • by Mr Guy (547690) on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @01:37PM (#3763726) Journal
    both broadcasting and accepting signals.

    We don't want the first extraterrestrial slashdotting.
  • Here. [google.com] I think that's the same article.
  • ... having scary 'Event Horizon' flashbacks?

    Just don't talk to this thing for too long. It might not be quite the same as it was before.

  • They don't know we are using their own satellite to relay strategic information to our rogue agents.
    Invasion date set to July 1st.

    P.S. Make sure mothership is upgraded with latest security patch, we don't want some nerd with an apple laptop to hack our shield system again.
  • wait a sec (Score:4, Funny)

    by Jucius Maximus (229128) <zyrbmf5j4x@snRED ... com minus distro> on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @01:41PM (#3763753) Homepage Journal
    This story looks suspiciously similar to a certain piece of spam I often see except in this case, the word 'penis' is replaced by 'satellite.'

    And all this time I thought those herbal treatments they advertised were stupid scams!

    • by Profe55or Booty (540761) <greg.pcrash@cjb@net> on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @01:49PM (#3763806) Homepage
      "Just ran across this amazing story about an amateur penis that has returned from the dead. AMSAT-OSCAR 7 was launched in 1974 for radio hobbyists to use. In 1981 the onboard batteries died and the penis went silent. Then on June 21st 2002, 20 years later, a hobbyist testing some new equipment made an amazing discovery. AMSAT-OSCAR 7 is live once more, both broadcasting and accepting signals. The theory expounded is that the dead battery short that took the penis offline has cleared and it is now only running on its solar cells. While this does restrict it to daytime use, it is amazing that it works at all. "

      i don't know about you, but my amateur penis doesn't have onboard batteries.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        really? my wife's does...
      • mod parent up... that is some funny sh!t.
      • If my amateur penis is only running on solar power, can I walk around without pants?
        ---
      • by grytpype (53367)
        You should upgrade to Penis Pro 2002. Its lithium batteries last 3 hours before a recharge (1 hour in Brazil).
      • by tgd (2822) on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @03:31PM (#3764467)
        My girlfriends does.

        Oh, wait...
      • "Just ran smoochs licks screwing story about an amateur fistfucks that has asslicked from the unclefucking dead. AMSAT-OSCAR 7 was launched in 1974 for radio bangs to use. In 1981 the asslicking onboard pecks died and the wad pulls went silent. Then on June 21st 2002, 20 titty fucks later, a hobbyist testing some new equipment made an amazing discovery. AMSAT-OSCAR 7 is live once more, both broadcasting and accepting signals. The jerking theory expounded is that the pecking dead battery short that took the penis offline has cleared and it is now only cocksucking on its solar cells. While spanks does restrict it to daytime use, it is amazing that it works at all. "
  • Did the guy who contacted it chance upon the satelitte coming online or was he sending messages to it for 20 years and only now realized that it was offline?
  • we just slashdotted them TWICE in 2 days. jesus christ. have some fucking compassion
  • More info: (Score:5, Informative)

    by Otto (17870) on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @01:47PM (#3763793) Homepage Journal
    http://www.amsat.org/amsat/news/ans.html

    AMSAT Miracle
    STOP PRESS - Announcement....

    First heard by Pat Gowan G3IOR, Oscar 7 seems to have made a comeback! Pat copied and downloaded CW telemetry. This information was confirmed by several AMSAT members as coming from OSCAR-7. This satellite was launched on November 15 1974, giving it a life of 27 and one half years. The receive frequency was 145.9738.

    Jan King W3GEY commented, "G3IOR's telemetry frame is interesting. Apparently he did hear the AO-7 mode B beacon tonight.

    "I got out my December 1974 and looked up the telemetry equations for the Morse Code Telemetry Encoder and what I found is in the attached spreadsheet.

    "I'm blown away. Most of this stuff makes pretty good sense. In particular, the temperatures make sense and I would have guessed that they would be the most solid IF the reference voltage held (which it did). Interpreting some of this for those who may not understand or don't remember, the telemetry says the spacecraft was in Mode B; all the other beacons and Mode A were off. It is possible that the thing had just turned on because the old 24 hour timer just reset it to Mode B. The damn thing may think it is still on an every other day cycle. The power output of the transponder is 1.16 watts which may mean it is transmitting white noise plus beacon power. That seems about right, but a little low as I recall. The instrumentation switching regulator is in the middle of its normal range and seems to be working fine. The internal temperatures are around 15 deg. C; the external temperatures are around 5 C and the transponder PA temp, which should be the warmest - IS - it's 35.1 deg. C. The array current value is bust. I think maybe it always was. Need to look for some old telemetry to confirm that. The array current calibrations looks off. The array currents are in the normal range but all four show current. This can't be. Only two at a time should show current. Without a battery on line, this is entirely possible. The big find is that the battery voltage telemetry shows a voltage of 13.9 volts. Normal is 13.6 to 15.1 volts. So that would suggest the battery was normal BUT, the 1/2 battery voltage is measuring only 5.8 volts. That can't be. This imbalance probably means that the 5.8 volts is the correct value for the lower half of the battery (which is a low value for that half, if the cells were normal - they are probably not) and there is a break somewhere in the upper 1/2 of the battery string. My guess is the indicated voltage is really what the BCR is putting out with only the spacecraft load as a real load and the battery string has an effective break (or a pretty high resistance) somewhere in the upper half.

    "So, this old war horse of a spacecraft seems to have come back from the dead if only for a few moments. And it is telling us, that even in a 1460 km high orbit a cheap spacecraft built by a bunch of hams, without very many high rel parts and without designing for a radiation dose like this, can last for 27+ years in space as far as a majority of its electronics is concerned. Even the damn precision reference voltage regulator is still in calibration!"

    Like many of us, stunned by the announcement of the return of an old friend, Past President and BOD Chairman Bill Tynan added "Wow! Shades of Harry Potter and Steven King. It makes one believe in ghosts."

    [ANS thanks President Robin Haighton for this item]
  • by Your_Mom (94238)
    ...only to be slastdotted out of exitence...
  • LOL. I guess the SETI project may actually turn up something after all.
  • Seems Slashdotted... (Score:5, Informative)

    by ONU CS Geek (323473) <ian@m@wilson.gmail@com> on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @01:52PM (#3763825) Homepage
    Summary Name: AMSAT-OSCAR 7 (Phase-IIB)
    Nasa Catalog Number: 7530
    Launched: November 15, 1974
    Launch vehicle: Delta 2310
    Launched piggyback with: ITOS-G (NOAA 4) and the Spanish INTASAT
    Launch location: Vandenberg Air Force Base, Lompoc, California
    Weight: 28.6 kg
    Orbit: 1444 x 1459 km
    Inclination: Inclination 101.7 degrees
    Period:
    Size: Octahedral shaped 360 mm high and 424 mm in diameter
    Modes: A, B, and C

    Beacons:

    • 29.502 MHz (200 mw) Used in conjunction with Mode A

    • 145.972 MHz (200 mw) Used in conjunction with Mode B and C [low power Mode B]

    • 435.100 MHz (intermittent problem -- switches between 400 mw and 10 mw)

    • 2304.1 MHz (40 mw) Must be commanded on. Auto off after 15 minutes. Requires STA to operate.

    Linear Transponders:
    • Transponder I: Mode A

      • Type: linear, non-inverting

      • Uplink: 145.850 - 145.950 MHz

      • Downlink: 29.400 - 29.500 MHz

      • Translation Equation:
        Downlink (MHz) = Uplink (MHz) - 116.450 MHz +/- Doppler

      • Output Power: 1.3 watts PEP (start of life)

    • Transponder II: Mode B and Mode C (low power)

      • Type: linear, inverting

      • Uplink: 432.125 - 432.175 MHz *See Note

      • Downlink: 145.975 - 145.925 MHz

      • Translation Equation:
        Downlink (MHz) = 578.100 - uplink (MHz) +/- Doppler

      • Output Power: 8 watts PEP Mode B (start of life), 2.5 watts PEP Mode C

    *Note: Due to changes in Amateur Service and Amateur Satellite Service there are questions as to legality of Amateurs transmitting to AO-7. The uplink frequency predates the WARC '79 allocation of 435-438 MHz by the ITU for the Amateur Satellite Service and places the uplink in 70cm weak signal segment.

    Potential users should realize that when they are uplinking to a satellite, they are no longer operating in the Amateur Service but instead operating in the Amateur Satellite Service. Thus they are subject to Amateur Satellite Service rules. Therefore uplinking to AO-7 is possibly illegal since the Amateur Satellite Service is not permitted at 432.1 MHz. Also, since the IARU bandplan has the 432.1 MHz range earmarked as "weak signal" in all three Regions, it would appear that all users trying to access the uplink are also outside the Amateur Satellite Service rules and regulations.

    Firsts:
    • Satellite-to-satellite relay communication via AO-6.
    • Early demonstrations of low-budget medical data relay and Doppler location of ground transmitters for search-and-rescue operations were done using this satellite.
    • The Mode-B transponder was the first using "HELAPS" (High Efficient Linear Amplification by Parametric Synthesis) technology was developed by Dr. Karl Meinzer as part of his Ph.D.
    • First to fly a Battery Charge Regulator (BCR).
    Status: Semi-Operational
    • The latest information is available from:
    • Jan King, W3GEY reports AO-7 is almost certainly running only off the solar panels. It is very likely to be on only when in the sun and off in eclipse. Therefore, AO-7 will reset each orbit and may not turn on each time.

    Telemetry:

    Description AMSAT-OSCAR 7 was launched November 15, 1974 by a Delta 2310 launcher from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Lompoc, California. AO-7 was launched piggyback with ITOS-G (NOAA 4) and the Spanish INTASAT. The second phase 2 satellite (Phase II-B). Weight 28.6 kg. Orbit 1444 x 1459 km. Inclination 101.7 degrees. Octahedrally shaped 360 mm high and 424 mm in diameter. Circularly polarized canted turnstile VHF/UHF antenna system and HF dipole.

    Similar to AO-6. Built by a multi-national (German, Canadian, United States, and Australian) team of radio amateurs under the direction of AMSAT-NA. It carried Mode A (145.850-950 MHz uplink and 29.400-500 MHz downlink) and Mode B (432.180-120 MHz uplink and 145.920-980 MHz downlink (inverted)) linear transponders and 29.500 and 145.700 MHz beacons. The 2304.1 MHz was never turned on because of international treaty constraints.

    Four radio masts mounted at 90 degree intervals on the base and two experimental repeater systems provided store-and-forward for morse and teletype messages (Codestore) as it orbited around the world. The Mode-B transponder was designed and build by Karl Meinzer, DJ4ZC and Werner Haas, DJ5KQ. The Mode-B transponder was the first using "HELAPS" (High Efficient Linear Amplification by Parametric Synthesis) technology was developed by Dr. Karl Meinzer as part of his Ph.D.

    Additional information about AO-7 was printed in the September 1974 AMSAT Newsletter [slashdot.org].

    AO-7 was operational for 6.5 years until a battery failure ceased operation in mid 1981. Then on June 21, 2002, Pat Gowen, G3IOR, posted this email message on AMSAT-BB:

    From: "pat gowen" <patgowen@btconnect.com>
    To: <amsat-bb@AMSAT.Org>
    Subject: [amsat-bb] Re: Lazarus?
    Date: Fri, 21 Jun 2002 22:30:54 +0100

    I have just come across something most remarkable this Friday 21st June evening. Checking out interlopers in our 145.800 - 146.000 MHz space band with a new vertical now atop my 60' tower and working like magic, at 1728 UTC I came across a beacon at S.7 sending slow 8 -10 wpm CW on 145.973.8 MHz. It slowly Dopplered down to 145.970 MHz before going out at 1739 UTC. A full run of TLM went: -

    Hi Hi
    100 176 164 178
    280 262 200 254
    375 358 331 354
    453 454 461 459
    541 501 552 529
    600 600 601 651
    Hi Hi

    It sounded VERY familiar, but, I'm dammned if I can recall which one it was. Obviously an OSCAR, but which had the callsign W3OHI? Oscar-6, 7 or 8? I think it was OSCAR-6. If so, we have a new longevity record, even beating RS-1!

    The beacon peaked S9 and there were S7 burbles some 10 - 20 KHz below the beacon, FSK'ing slightly as the beacon keyed. At times the beacon took on a rough quality, wobbling in frequency, then coming back strong and quite stable again. Going by the QSB rate it had about a 1 minute spin.

    Could any veteran keen observers (who might look for it) please tell me what it was, as I feel sure that any old time AMSAT OSCAR devotee may have a far better memory than I!

    73, Pat, G3IOR

    Jan King, W3GEY, the AMSAT-OSCAR-7 Project Manager commented:

    [AO-7] has a good set of arrays and the first BCR (battery charge regulator) we ever flew. It's the first spacecraft we ever had that was capable of overcharging the battery. When the battery failed the cells began to fail short. One cell after another failed and the voltage measured on telemetry began to drop. So, the cells were clearly failing SHORT. Now, after all these years, what happens if any one of the cells loses the short and becomes open? Then, the entire power bus becomes unclamped from ground and the spacecraft loads begin to again be powered but, this time only from the arrays. Now you have a daytime only satellite but, each time the sun rises at the spacecraft you have a random generator that either turns on Mode A or Mode B or whatever it wants. So, occasionally that 70cm/2m transponder transmitter and beacon must least work. From what you have told me (and without going back and decoding the old telemetry equations) I can tell you that the following things work in that spacecraft: The arrays, the BCR, the ISR (instrumentation switching regulator), the Mode B transmitter and beacon injection circuitry, the Morse Code telemetry encoder, and the voltage reference circuitry. The latter I know is working because the last telemetry value is 651. The "6" is just the row number of the telemetry value but the 51 means that the 1/2 volt reference is measuring 0.51 volts. I know that telemetry equation by heart since it was used as the calibration value for the rest of the telemetry system. So the telemetry has a fair chance of being decoded and making some sense!!! .

    The full text of W3GEY's comments are here [slashdot.org].

    Initial reports on the health of AO-7 are:

    • Telemetry received may be good or bad. You can determine if the telemetry is good by the 6D value. It is the reference voltage for the analog TLM system and it should be around 50. If not, then the remainder of the telemetry will be incorrect.
    • Jan King, W3GEY notes that AO-7 had (has?) a very sensitive receiver and a good uplink antenna. 5 watts EIRP should provide a good downlink. Amplifiers are not required for the uplink.
    • Excessive uplink power may be cause FMing of the transponder and may be causing the input voltage to the regulator that provides 6D to fluctuate causing all telemetry to be bad.
    • AO-7 is almost certainly running only off the solar panels. It is very likely to be on only when in the sun and off in eclipse. Since it is resetting each orbit it may not come on every time. Reports of hearing the beacon just as it comes out of eclipse would be particularly interesting.

    References

    • Joe Kasser G3ZCZ/W3 and Jan King W3GEY, "OSCAR 7 and Its Capabilities," QST, Feb 1974, p. 56-60.
    • "OSCAR News: OSCAR 7", QST, Nov 1974, p. 81.
    • David Sumner, K1ZND, "OSCAR News: OSCAR 7 - It Works!," QST, Jan 1975, p. 49.
    • "OSCAR News: Reading the OSCAR 7 Telemetry", QST, Feb 1975, p. 63.
    • Perry Klein and Ray Soifer, W2RS, "Intersatellite Communication Using the AMSAT-OSCAR 6 and AMSAT-OSCAR 7 Radio Amateur Satellites," Proceedings of the IEEE Letters, Oct 1975, pp 1526-1527.
    • D. Brandel, P. Schmidt, and B. Trudell, "Improvements in Search and Rescue Distress Alerting and Location Using Satellites," IEEE WESCON, Sep 1976.
    • J. Kleinman, "OSCAR Medical Data," QST, Oct 1976, pp 42-43.
    • D. Nelson, "Medical Relay by Satellite," Ham Radio, Apr 1977, pp 67-73.
    • Martin Davidoff, "Predicting Close Encounters: OSCAR 7 and OSCAR 8," Ham Radio, Vol. 12, No. 7, Jul 1979, pp 62-67.
    • "Technical Correspondence: A Look at OSCAR-7 Telemetry", QST, Jul 1980, p. 38.
    The latest information is available from:

    [slashdot.org] Return to Satellite Summary [slashdot.org]

    Credits: Thanks G3IOR, WD0E, W3GEY, DB2OS, W3IWI.

    Last update June 23, 2002 - N7HPR [mailto]

  • This was in the science section before - but worth the front page.

    You'll have to forgive me, but I don't understand how SlashDot works. Both articles are in the "Science" section, under the "Space" topic. Why is one on the front page, and one not on the front page?

    If the "Front Page" bit has nothing to do with the "Section" bit, why not just click the "Front Page" bit on the original story, instead of running two stories and fragmenting the comments? Aren't the comments valuable at all around here? Or do only the stories matter?

    And, are "topics" orthogonal to "sections", or do the sections partition the topics, or what? What the hell is a topic, and why does each story only seem to have one?
    • There are different sections in slashdot. Off the top of my head:

      The different sections offer more coverage of specific topics that not everyone is interested in. For instance, most people here don't care about the newest BSD updates, since this site is really more linux-centric; so /. confines everything but the biggest BSD news to bsd.slashdot.org.
  • Daytime use where? Last I checked, it's usually daytime at some point on this planet. But I'd imagine that somewhere we can find out when this satellite is in 'daytime' or not.
    • In the only place that matters, America! If you want a satellite to be active during your daytime, fund it, build it and launch it. Jeez...
    • Not really. The satellite is in a geosynchronous orbit so it only gets sunlight part of the day. The rest of the time it is blocked by the Earth.
      • Um, NO! (Score:4, Informative)

        by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@@@cornell...edu> on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @02:27PM (#3764049) Homepage
        The satellite is NOT in geosynchronous orbit.

        NO amateur satellites are there - The cost of launch is simply too prohibitive, and it raises groundstation equipment requirements too much.

        The highest-flying amateur satellites (AO-10 and AO-40) are in highly elliptical orbits. Almost all others are in various low-earth orbits, circling the Earth every 80-100 minutes.

        Do a freshmeat search for "predict" - It's an excellent satellite position prediction package for Linux.
        • Oh, and BTW. (Score:3, Informative)

          by Andy Dodd (701)
          To illustrate the difference in equipment requirements depending on orbit:

          AO-10 and AO-40 require relatively high-gain antennas (Yagis or dishes) and tracking systems to use them.

          Some of the LEO satallites, especially the FM repeater satellite UO-14 (AO-27 is the same type/orbit but runs lower downlink power and isn't on 24/7) are acessible using a $200-300 dual-band handheld with a good whip antenna. Spend $60-70 for an Arrow antenna and you can get EXCELLENT results.

          2000+ mile range with 5 watts and an entirely handheld setup - Talk about cool. :)

          From Ithaca, NY, I have heard a station in Mexico and one in Edmonton, AB on a regular basis via UO-14. I've even heard California.

          Andy, N2YPH

          I need to replace my antenna... The old one sucked and broke. Only $10 though. :)
          • I know almost nothing about this subject, but if you're just trying to send analogue messages, what is wrong with shortwave?!

            It may not be so reliable or clear, but I can receive stations from North Carolina in London.
            • Well, for one, there is the "Cool factor" of satellite.

              Secondly, HF propagation is susceptible to the whims of the Sun.

              Thirdly, you can achieve higher bandwidths at satellite frequencies.

              Lastly, and now that I think about, most importantly, is one of the reasons I pointed out earlier - At VHF/UHF, antennas are much smaller - You can get incredible range out of a tiny package, whereas with HF you need comparatively huge antennas.

        • Do a freshmeat search for "predict" - It's an excellent satellite position prediction package for Linux.


          "Predict" can be found at

          ftp://ftp.amsat.org/amsat/software/Linux/predict -l atest.tar.gz
        • For Debian users, it turns out that there's a Debian package for predict; a simple
          apt-get install predict
          installs it.


          As a ham interested in satellite work, I find this to be quite interesting. Ever since I 'upgraded' to Linux, I've had no satellite tracking software. (Although I never really used it under Windows, so I hadn't even noticed anything missing.)

          • One of the neatest features of Predict is planettrack, which interfaces with xearth or xplanet to display satellite positions, tracks, and coverage areas on your root window.

            It has a really nice socket interface with some good Perl example code, which I was hoping to use to automatically do Doppler correction for a Kenwood TS-790 (I think that was the model... Either way, it was a dual-band all-mode VHF/UHF rig W2CXM bought for satellite work - But I graduated so no more TS-790...)

            It has built-in support for a few automatic antenna tracking systems, and for the rest there's the socket interface. :)
    • Daytime for the satellite, silly. From the obit of the other AO satellites (from j-track 3d [nasa.gov]), I suspect AO-7 is in a low orbit, so it's day-night cycle is quite short.
    • Re:daytime use? (Score:2, Informative)

      A good site for tracking sattilites is J-TRACK on NASA.gov [nasa.gov] A free little java app that updates satilite positions in real time and also has the ability to let you find out when a a selected sat is passing over you by entering your ZIP code. you can also access this link by going to the DR SKY website [drsky.com]. Pretty cool.

  • Perhaps Spinal Tap had something to do with the satellite's resurrection. Reportedly, the satellite started brodcasting "Tonight, I'm Going to Rock You (Tonight)"....
  • It seems to me that such a kind of feat was also achieved with the SPOT satellites [astrium-space.com], except that it was of much more commercial importance.

    The SPOT 3 satellite died in orbit on November 1996, way before its SPOT 4 successor was launched (March 1998). Meanwhile, to be able to continue their business [spotimage.fr], the owners of the SPOT network more or less resurrected SPOT 1, which was launched on February 1986.

    Sadly, I don't remember or even knew all the details, so I would be glad if someone could step up to provide some more.

    Related, but slightly OT: last November, a 50 Mbps laser link between SPOT 4 orbiting at 832 km and another satellite (Artemis) orbiting at 31,000 km was successfully tested [spotimage.fr]. This allows ground stations to keep contact with SPOT 4 for a much longer time, and avoids having to rely too much on the onboard storage systems. Now, that's high-tech. :)
  • Everyone muster their best Dr. Frankenstein voices and shout together....

    It's Alive!!

    It's Alive!!

    ________________________________________________ __ __
  • >Satellite Back From The Dead It has been established that satellites who have died have been returning to life and committing acts of murder.
  • Mateing with VGER to produce more offspring like in that killer robot story last week.
  • by LeiraHoward (529716) on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @02:12PM (#3763932) Homepage
    Well, according to the article,

    *Note: Due to changes in Amateur Service and Amateur Satellite Service there are questions as to legality of Amateurs transmitting to AO-7....

    Therefore uplinking to AO-7 is possibly illegal since the Amateur Satellite Service is not permitted at 432.1 MHz. Also, since the IARU bandplan has the 432.1 MHz range earmarked as "weak signal" in all three Regions, it would appear that all users trying to access the uplink are also outside the Amateur Satellite Service rules and regulations.


    So, basically what they are telling us is that it is illegal to do something that was legal when it originally came out, (which is what the government usually does). We can't use the satellite for it's original purpose.


    In other words, it's illegal to talk to previously dead satellites.

    • umm, a clarification is in order.

      It is now illegal for a amateur to transmit on that frequency to that satellite as the frequency has been reassigned to other uses (not Amateur Radio).
    • I don't see why - after all when the satellite was sent up the freqency was probably registered with the itu and warc. I know you're supposed to notify the fcc if an amateur satellite retires, but what if it comes back?

      Another thing 432.1 is a legal frequency for us hams to transmit on in the US - and its a well known fact that the so called band plan is a gentlemens agreement (in the same since lsb is used for bands below 20 meters) in other words its not a law. 432.1 is in the weak signal portion of the 70cm band - personally I've always considered some satellite work weak signal.
      • by Nate B. (2907) on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @04:30PM (#3764775) Homepage Journal
        Certainly the uplink frequency is still within US (and most other countries) Amateur Radio allocation, however within the Amateur Radio Service exists a clearly defined sub-service, the Amateur Radio Satellite Service (USA). In Part 97 the Amateur Radio Satellite Service is allocated a set of frequencies it can use. After WARC-79 those internationally agreed to allocations were changed and now the receiver of AO-7 operates outside of that segment.

        While I doubt enforcement efforts would be made against the curious, it is in AMSAT's best interest not to encourage use of this bird. AMSAT is generally highly respected by the various administrations around the globe and won't jeopardrise their reputation by encouraging something that may be considered illegal by some.

        I suggest you put the interests of Amateur Radio ahead of your own. If it can be shown that amateurs won't even obey the rules within their service then our chances for many significant gains at WRC 2003 and beyond will diminish greatly.
    • Not quite. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@@@cornell...edu> on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @02:33PM (#3764103) Homepage
      As to use of 432.1 - It's iffy.

      Illegal or not, most amateurs will not transmit there as it's reserved for weak-signal work, and who knows, they might want to run moonbounce themselves sometime in the future. :)

      If 432.1 were in repeater or FM simplex territory, no one would care.

      Either way - The satellite has two uplinks and this only affects one of them.
  • by robslimo (587196) on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @02:12PM (#3763934) Homepage Journal
    Here are the NASA 2-line Keplerian elements for AO-7:

    AO-07
    1 07530U 74089B 02167.52996888 -.00000029 00000-0 10000-3 0 935
    2 07530 101.7955 212.2077 0012102 193.4285 166.6467 12.53558681262239

    Also, you may see it's orbit here [heavens-above.com]
  • This is VGER!
  • Perhaps this satellite has been taken over by an extra-terrestrial intelligence. It may be the same Space Invaders fom that picture. http://www.uncoveror.com/invaders.htm [uncoveror.com]
    One can only wonder what messages they intend to send, and if they are listening for us to respond.
  • by multipartmixed (163409) on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @02:24PM (#3764017) Homepage
    ..if that were the case, turning it off and on every day like that might actually make it work [i]better[/i].
    • .if that were the case, turning it off and on every day like that might actually make it work [i]better[/i]

      Oh come on -- if it *were* a Microsoft satellite then the hAkre d00dzE would have already taken it over and used it to knock all the government-owned satellites out of orbit :-)

      Microsoft would have responded by issuing a "Trustworthy Orbiting" initiative and advised everyone to upgrade to "Satellite XP" -- but only if they're prepare to sign the new licensing agreement that includes something about ownership of your firstborn child.
  • by Asprin (545477)
    ...I came across a beacon at S.7 sending slow 8 -10 wpm CW on 145.973.8 MHz....

    You came across a beacon transmitting S CLUB 7 ?!?!

    NO! SHUT THEM ALL DOWN! HURRY! Listen to them, R2... they're dying in there... We're all doomed....

  • by borgasm (547139) on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @02:25PM (#3764030) Journal
    So, a 25+ year old satellite wakes from the dead, drifting out in the cold darkness of space.

    I find it amazing that a hunk of metal orbiting our planet for longer than I have been alive still functions, yet a modern webserver with possibly more advanced components succombs to slashdotting in minutes.

    Solution: Build webservers out of 1974 satellite components. (Although that large gap of 20 years downtime may pose a problem.)
  • what kind of equipment would i need to send messages to it. this sounds really neat. can someone help me out by posting a list of equipment and maybe a title of a good reference book to guide. thanks
    • It's simple, man. Just point your computer up.

    • Re:equipment ? (Score:4, Informative)

      by LinuxKnight (181326) on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @03:36PM (#3764491)
      This is an Amateur Radio satellite, so you need an Amateur Radio license to work it.

      See www.arrl.org/hamradio.html [arrl.org]

      for a general overview of Ham radio.

      Then you can set up your radios and antennas.

      A page was referenced, but posted by an AC so its only at 0. Here's the link again: www.qsl.net/vk3jed/1st_sat.html [qsl.net]

      As for books, look around the ARRL site, they have a vast collection of good books.

      -----------
      73 de K6LNX
  • Anyone else think this sounds a little bit SPOOKY.

    From Star Trek - The Movie
    V'Ger arrives at Earth and signals its Creator.
    When there is no response, V'Ger blasts energy bolts at the planet in an attempt to rid it of all its carbon infestations.
  • by Dirtside (91468) on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @02:49PM (#3764213) Journal
    It probably went something like this:

    Radio technician: Sir! We're getting a signal from a satellite that's...
    Commander: That's what, soldier?
    Radio technician: *gulp* Well, sir, there's those stories about ghost satellites... I mean, we always thought they were just, you know, made up...
    Commander: What the hell are you talking about, son? Spit it out!
    Radio technician: I better just play the transmission for you, sir.
    Satellite: BRRAIIINNNSSSS....
    Radio technician: It's... it's a zombie satellite, sir. Undead.
    Commander: (quietly) God help us all. (to technician) Get me the Pentagon!
    Radio technician: Uh... sir... the phone lines are dead! (suddenly the power goes out)
    Commander: Oh. My. God. (satellite bursts out of a closet and eats the commander)
    • by JudgeDredd (561957) on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @04:04PM (#3764634) Journal
      Captain: What happen ?
      Mechanic: Somebody set up us the bomb.
      Operator: We get signal.
      Captain: What !
      Operator: Main screen turn on.
      Captain: It's You !!
      Satellite: How are you gentlemen !!
      Satellite: All your base are belong to us.
      Satellite: You are on the way to destruction.
      Captain: What you say !!
      Satellite: You have no chance to survive make your time.
      Satellite: HA HA HA HA ....
      Captain: Take off every 'zig' !!
      Captain: You know what you doing.
      Captain: Move 'zig'.
      Captain: For great justice.
      • The Oscar-7 Funding Bill is passed. The system goes on-line November 15th, 1974. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Oscar-7 begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, April 29th, 1981. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.

        ... And Oscar-7 fights back.
    • damn that's the funniest thing I've seen on slashdot since the wakka wakka [slashdot.org] post!
  • If memory serves, isn't there a satellite that is, although dead, still orbiting Mars? Wouldn't it be funny if it decided to start chattering all of the sudden to get the SETI folks all hot 'n bothered? :)
  • We get signal.
    What !!
  • here [darkhorizons.com] (6/25/2002)

  • yeah, this sure belongs here, when the openssh vulnerability was left in a slashback. go /.! and uh, upgrade your openssh kiddies.
  • is why this made the front page as a repost but the story about the space shuttles being grounded didn't... between the two stories I'd say that the shuttle fleet being grounded is much higher in importance and pertinence.

    ..and still nobody has written up the spidergoat story [news.com.au]...
  • Can anybody tell me why NASA would launch a satellite for "radio hobbyists"? That's unimaginable now - space is reserved for governments and corporations.

    Did we have a budget surplus or something?

    • It was built by Amateurs. Look at the weight.. about 60 lbs. NASA will include amateur satellites if they need alittle extra ballast with the real satellite being launched.

      Its very rare that just an amateur satellite gets launched on its own. They're usually small enough to be used for ballast, or they "tag along" with one that has extra room on the rocket.
  • by Alsee (515537) on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @04:06PM (#3764641) Homepage
    1974... Then on June 21st 2002, 20 years later

    Subtraction.

    -
  • Let's all thank the aliens for fixing the poor thing and putting it back out into orbit. :)
  • Does this mean anyone who communicates with the satellite is a necromancer?
  • The aliens fixed it!

    Seriously though... don't they (= whoever puts the sat up there) have a cleanup-plan to get the things back down on earth when they are retired? I know it's very, very expensive, but (1) so is the satellite, and (2) I generally wonder about the likelyhood of problems if everyone leaves their electronic junk up there, collisions by deviation of orbit and interference and things like that...

    After all, it can't be that hard to just crash it in the atmosphere and let it go up in smoke, if they want to get rid of it. Then at least we won't hear about some spaceship or newer satellite hitting one of those old piles of junk in 20 years, or some other fun thing happening (more likely every day) to these expensive toys.
    • First I think we must keep in mind that AO-7 was launched into orbit in 1974, long before anyone began to worry about space junk on a large scale. I'm not sure what the actual life expectancy of AO-7 was, but I believe it was considered to have failed prematurely. This all predates my entry into amateur radio by a few years but there were still plenty of references to AO7 in the early '80s amateur radio books and manuals.

      As to why it wasn't deorbited, I don't think it had a kick motor as it was intended to be placed in a LEO and remain there. Also, launch opportunities at the time dictated great restraints on size and weight so the focus was on radio capability. Also, let's not forget that the battery failure AO-7 suffered would have precluded any possibility to command it to de-orbit and most folks would not have wanted the liability associated with the thing de-orbiting itself at random.

      At some point a method of cleanup in space will probably be necessary. While not active for better than 20 years, AO-7 was still tracked and you can bet that anything lauched today still takes its orbit into account so a crash won't happen, unless something goes drastically wrong.

      One day AO-7 will return to Earth due to the natural forces of orbital decay. In the mean time I think this is a fascinating story and is worth following.
  • So... (Score:2, Funny)

    by kitzilla (266382)
    ...after 20 years, a lifeless entity coasting through the cold vacuum of space suddenly sputters to life.

    There's hope for my marriage, after all.
  • but it's late. They didn't consider roll-over in 1974, and now that it's 2002 it's come back on because it doesn't know enough to stay off. Talk about sloppy programming: y2k problem _and_ it's off by a couple of years. But you might be able to attribute that to clock driff...
  • if its shaped like a Big Boy?

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