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Space Science

SuitSat Not Looking Good So Far 95

Hulboy writes "According to the SuitSat website, things aren't going well for the makeshift satellite in it's first few hours. 'Reports of nothing heard from Israel, Turkey, South Africa, and two negative reports from Japan as well as the weak report below. JH3XCU reports signal only heard in SSB mode, TX cycle and doppler detectable, but no modulation... this is not looking good.'
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SuitSat Not Looking Good So Far

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  • by max99ted ( 192208 ) on Saturday February 04, 2006 @10:41AM (#14641496)
    ...since the linked article is a whole 5 sentences:

    The suit itself: at/index.php []

    People that heard suitsat - looks like it went offline about 1hr 15min into flight. []

    • The following update was posted to the AMSAT Bulletin Board and now appears on the AMSAT HomePage [].

      SuitSat Status 4 Feb 2005
      ---For Immediate Release---

      Silver Spring, Maryland
      4 February 2006 at 22:00 UTC

      Paraphrasing Mark Twain....the demise of SuitSat-1 is high exaggerated!!

      It is now nearly 24 hours since the successful deployment of the SuitSat-1
      experiment. These past 24 hours have been a wild ride of
      emotions...tremendous highs...deep lows when people reported no signals and
      said SuitSat-1 was dead and now..
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 04, 2006 @10:41AM (#14641497)
    Oh. We thought it was trash and scooped it up. Sorry. We'll drop it off somewhere the next time we're back to probe some rednecks.
    • This wouldn't be too off from the mark. The Satsuit was filled with trash. Trash disposal is a bit of a problem on the ISS (you can't just dump it out the airlock, it has to be tracked), and the people onboard saw this as a good opportunity to get rid of some of the backlog.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 04, 2006 @10:42AM (#14641499)
    Two orbits and it was fucked.

    My bet: there was something aboard ISS that was unsafe (alien maybe, bad yogurt experiment, etc) that needed to be dumped ... why not stuff it in a suit, put some weak radio shit in there, and ... call it an EXPERIMENT!!! For the science and the children!! Think of the children!!!!!

      confirm you're not a script,
    please type the word in this image:"tiring" ... got that right.
    • by Martin Blank ( 154261 ) on Saturday February 04, 2006 @11:17AM (#14641620) Homepage Journal
      Two orbits and it was fucked.

      This wasn't the most scientific mission possible, but instead something people thought would be fun. It was kicked out the door of the ISS, basically, which means the trajectory wasn't exactly guaranteed. There was no way to ensure that it wasn't going to get hit by orbital debris -- a paint fleck on one extremity would have at least sent it spinning and significantly altered its course -- or even that it would be in something resembling a stable orbit, even for a few days.
      • by Clueless Moron ( 548336 ) on Saturday February 04, 2006 @03:18PM (#14642684)
        a paint fleck on one extremity would have at least sent it spinning and significantly altered its course

        Low earth orbit velocity is 7800m/s. The most likely, and worst way, to get hit by a paint fleck is to get hit by one in the same orbit but in the opposite direction, which would be a delta vee of 2*7800m/s.

        Let's be really generous and say a paint fleck weighs 1g and hits the suitsat (say 100kg) dead on. By conservation of momentum, the suit's velocity will decrease from 7800m/s to... 7799.844 m/s.

        In other words, it'll still be at 99.998% of it's original velocity. I won't bother calculating how little the fleck could have affected the spin, because it's not like the suit was spin stabilized to begin with. Spin fade was expected to begin with. The only significance of the fleck is that it would cause the suit to (slowly) depressurize, but more importantly possible trash the equipment if it was in the way.

        My guess is that since the equipment wasn't really designed for this kind of orbital abuse: the nasty temperature shift between night and day just caused caused some circuitry to fail from thermal expansion. Or perhaps the suit leaked; the equipment wasn't designed to work in a hard vacuum.

    • The should rename it the unsuitable satellite.
  • SuitSat tracking (Score:2, Informative)

    by Fulg ( 138866 )
    Help them out here: []
    • Help them out here: []

      If they can't pick it up on their spendy spendy equipment, what chance do I have?

      Heck, I couldn't even look for it with my scope, damn fog moved in as soon as the clouds left.

      • When it's passing over, it's not that far away. Even with a few watts transmission, a reasonable receiver or scanner and antenna on 145.990 MHz FM and the right time would have been enough. (They figured a handheld would be fine when it's right overhead.) It's not radio astronomy science after all.
        • It'll be over NYC in ten minutes or so...I'll set an alarm to look out the window. Too bad we can't just ping.
          • How's that going work in the daytime? (And Weather Underground says you've got clouds.) When I said it passed over close, I didn't mean quite that close... Well, if you see it, give it a wave back for me.
        • This morning at 6:00UT I picked up ISS packet radio on 145.800 but Suitsat was silent. It was fairly easy, I was using a basic Yaesu handheld and a three element yagi held by hand. I probably could pick it up using a scanner with rubberduck, signal strength of the packet on ISS was very good.
    • Been up for the last 20 hours getting ready/looking for Suitsat. Got 3 radios on 145.99, two verticles and a beam. Got two recorders on and two SSTV programs running looking for an image.
      Hope the batteries warm up and we get something. Nothing hear on the last pass (10 min ago). But got some faint reception on earlier passes. It's not dead!
      Hopefully will get something on the next overhead pass!
  • I hope they get another chance to try again. I had my scanner all ready to hear the SuitCast. I don't have an iPod to download it to, though. Just my PodBrain.
  • No signal? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Monkeys!!! ( 831558 )
    Blame the airhead that is controlling the damn thing.
  • I had my PC monitoring for the SSTV image, but got nothing but two frames of static. According to the WEBsite, it was supposed to flyby this area at 1am and 4am.

    I am disappointed that it seems to already be malfunctioning. I imagine that the kids in those schools around the world are even more upset.
  • ... to keep track of. Great. Perhaps in the future we should be more careful with the things we put into orbit. Every time we do something trivial like this, it means cleaning it all up later is going to be that much more difficult.
    • Every time we do something trivial like this, it means cleaning it all up later is going to be that much more difficult.

      The ISS is in a low enough orbit (~400km) that this thing will not be there for very long. The odds of it causing a problem before it re-enters are very very small. At most, it will "only" take a few years to re-enter.

      It's the stuff that gets left higher up that poses real risk, hence the change in attitude about blowing things up when you are done with them, and the desire to save

    • Umm, it's likely to just de-orbit and burn up within a few days to a couple of weeks. It's hardly going to sit there forever is it?
    • by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <slashdot.kadin@x[ ].net ['oxy' in gap]> on Saturday February 04, 2006 @03:40PM (#14642770) Homepage Journal
      The SuitSat is not a problem ... really. It's in an unstable LEO, probably tumbling all over the place, impacting all sort of other small debris. If anything, it'll clean a little bit of the crap out of its way as it comes down and burns up.

      Now, if you want to talk about dangerous space junk, where you want to look is up in the higher orbits, the so-called "nuclear safe" ones. The Soviets had a series of spy satellites that (because they didn't want to have big solar panels on them in such low orbits) had nuclear reactors. Not RTGs, honest to god liquid-metal cooled nuclear reactors. They had a system to eject the reactor cores into high orbits before the satellites re-entered (which sometimes didn't work -- one of them contaminated quite a bit of Northern Canada). But even when the systems did work, the result was a rather largish chunk of very radioactive material in high orbit.

      I'm sure there is probably a lot of other dangerous junk floating around out there, too. If you want to talk about space debris, it's out in the higher orbits that you really need to look. Especially because those are the places where you'd probably want to assemble a large space station (or park big, expensive satellites with large solar collectors), and that stuff doesn't like getting hit by old crap.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Can no one at Slashdot get it's/its right? If we're all supposed to be uber-smart computer people, well, computer syntax is important if you program... it's just English syntax. C++ makes more sense? By not fixing it, the editors are just reinforcing ignorance, and that's not the goal of Slashdot. C'mon guys, fix those typos so we can see examples of good programming I mean spelling.

    Caveat: This post may contain typos. ^_^

  • by LineGrunt ( 133002 ) on Saturday February 04, 2006 @12:11PM (#14641818)
    People ARE reporting very weak contacts.

    (Although some people are clearly mistaking the signals coming from the ISS with the SatSuit too).

    So it is likely that the suit is still on the air, but radiating a lot lower signal than they planned.

    I'm still planning on trying to hear it the next two passes here. 11 degrees and 72 degrees. Don't have fancy az/el antennas, but I've worked the ISS and AO-27 from here so I should stand a chance.

    Grunts away!
  • Still alive but weak (Score:3, Informative)

    by CaptainBJones ( 895857 ) on Saturday February 04, 2006 @12:17PM (#14641843)
    I was up at 0355L this morning to catch the second (and best) pass to see if I could hear anything and heard nothing... BUT I gave it another shot at 1021L this morning and heard data (somewhat strong at one point...) but not enough to decode. So there still is hope... As for another piece of junk floating around up there it will fall back to earth in about 6 weeks...
    • Stability (Score:3, Informative)

      somewhat strong at one point

      There is no such thing as a spherically symetric omni antenna. I wonder if the suit has found a stable attitude which points a bad lobe straight down. Other lobes are attenuated by the atmosphere or don't point at the Earth.

      Properly designed LEO satellites take into account plasma flow at orbital altitude.

  • Equipment (Score:2, Interesting)

    by batquux ( 323697 )
    Now they've made it sound like anyone with a cheap receiver and a rubber duck antenna will be able to easily pick up this thing's signal full quieting from their basement. Keep in mind we don't know where it is other than "space" (which is rather far away from anyone on earth), it's transmitting at a low wattage, and it's impossible to predict the polarization of its antenna. Give it some time, set your SSTV software up to wait all day for a signal, and try an eggbeater antenna. It's still up there and it's
    • Re:Equipment (Score:2, Informative)

      by AndroidCat ( 229562 )
      Not far away at all. It's only around 200 miles out. The problem is that it only has a line of sight (VHF radio) on a small area of the Earth as it orbits. And the orbit is fairly predictable until it starts to decay.
      • Yeah, the distance is kind of a relative thing. Indeed, 200 miles is a much easier contact from space to earth than between two points on the surface of the earth on VHF (especially using a half watt, the dome light on your car is probably more than that). The orbit is fairly predictable for now, but gets worse as more time elapses and can still be a significant source of error. People are picking it up, but it's hit and miss. I guess I'm just saying that it's a little trickier than what people were initial
        • One thing I should have mentioned is that for most of the area of line of sight, unless it passes right overhead, it's not going to get very high up in the local sky. Any buildings or hills could still block the signal.

          I don't suppose anyone has made a sat tracking plug-in for Google Earth?

          • Re:Equipment (Score:2, Interesting)

            by batquux ( 323697 )
            Exactly. Not to mention the doppler shift of any lower angle passes. If you have a really good 10 minute pass directly overhead, you'll only be able to see the signal at 145.990mhz for 4-6 minutes of that pass. And only a fraction of that will be any good because of reasons we've already mentioned. So if it's not a good, overhead pass, you'll be hard pressed to get anything at all. You can, of course, adjust for doppler shift but that's a whole trip in itself.

    • Re:Equipment (Score:5, Informative)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Saturday February 04, 2006 @03:46PM (#14642793) Homepage
      Exactly. It WAS recieved by many hams with the right gear. A friend of mine that works sattelites all the time was able to get a decent signal and could tell it was suitsat but the audio was garbled because what he said was "the suit must be spinning wierd". He was using a home brew ALT/AZ setup with a nice 2 meter quad and a tower mounted Recieve Preamp.

      Everyone trying with their $12.00 radio shack scanner will be very dissapointed.
  • You do understand where astronauts go to the bathroom, don't you? Hmmm, why was THAT suit expendible? Who was sick? We want to know.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It passes right over my house in northern Minnesota.Nasa allerts me by email,giving the time direction and duration of visability.It looks like a very bright star at -1.I searched the sky hoping to see the suit trailng behind the station,even though they said it would not be visable.I searched and found nothing trailing the station.The temp at 6:10am was 4 degrees farenheit with 40 mph winds.
    In the good old days when drinking and driving was a recreational sport.We would make a wish everytime we thr
  • Suddenly, the astronauts onboard ISS Remembered protocol

    . O -- Arghhh!
    . -==X==-
    . |
    . / \
    . / \

    Perhaps they shouldv removed frank from the suit before kicking it out.

    Personally I think the suit has been hit by something and is now oriented badly for pickup by earth based people.

    Can the folks onboard ISS see it still or has it gone over the horizon?

    Why cant
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 04, 2006 @02:32PM (#14642498)
    ... and was able to sneak out a copy of a comm transcript. TDRS picked up the signal at S+30 minutes (*).

    SuitSat (SS): (static) ... not funny guys. Houston, EVA3, do you read? ISS, EVA3, do you read? Come on guys, pick me up.

    CAPCOM: EVA3, Houston. Please maintain radio silence.

    SS: Houston! EVA3. EVA1 and EVA2 insisted that I maintain radio silence during my initiation, too. However, they haven't picked me up yet, and the SAFER pack does not seem to be functional.

    CAPCOM: EVA3, Houston. We have lost signal from the experimental AMSAT transmitter you are carrying. Is it suffering from an obvious malfunction?

    SS: I had to remove its battery to power my suit. It lost power ten minutes after I was thrown overboard.

    CAPCOM: EVA3, replace the transmitter's battery. Completion of its transmission was a condition of the low fare on your secret flight.

    SS: Houston, the contract didn't state that I'd be free-floating without power during the transmission!

    CAPCOM: Look Bass, why do you think we only charged to for a one-way flight?

    SS: GAAAAAH! F*@$ you all, and all of Houston too, you dirty (LOSS OF SIGNAL)

    PAO thought we should keep this under wraps, but I think the word needs to get out. Our new adminstrator deserves a metal for this.

    (*): "Spacing plus thirty minutes."
  • I went through the AMSAT site and some others and couldn't find any mention of what they used, just that is was 28 volts.

    I wonder if they relied on an aqueous based chemistry, which degrades rapidly below 0 C or did actually use something good for lower temps like LiSO2.

    Just curious.

    Also, did they even try to put this setup into a temperature/pressure chamber to see how it would work while on the ground?
  • Why go through the expense and problems of rocketing a satellite from earth when you stuff the electronics in some handy space trash? It's giving me ideas the next time my trash gets picked up.
  • Audio of Suitsat (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Someone managed to record a data burst from the suitsat: 006&p=47 []
  • by fbg111 ( 529550 ) on Saturday February 04, 2006 @06:18PM (#14643297)
    NASA's Mission Control Centre in Houston, Texas, says the transmitter ceased operating very quickly after its deployment.

    Darn, just like my home wi-fi network. Well I'm glad to hear NASA has trouble with these things too, makes me feel a little less inept...
  • I'd say it's just peeved at being thrown out of an airlock. You'd be just as upset, believe me.
  • I've been thinking about getting into amateur radio. A few problems, though - and I thought I'd solicit some advice.

    a) I'm very urban-bound -- Vancouver, BC -- but a few blocks from the beach.
    b) very space limited.

    What are my options? I understand I can use handheld radios, but what can I really accomplish with a unit that small? Are portable antennas a real option?

  • can you hear me now? Good.
  • Aren't spacesuits radiation shielded? Would that perhaps affect radio propagation?
  • Just when we reported it had given up the ghost [] prematurely, we not find that SuitSat is still alive albeit very weak. The SuitSat web site [] shows weak signal reported from 2006-02-05 05:43:16 on up.

"It takes all sorts of in & out-door schooling to get adapted to my kind of fooling" - R. Frost