This morning, my daughter Geneva and I stepped outside with her Yaesu FT-60 around 8:35 EDT, tuned to 145.80 and listened to Astronaut Mark Vande Hei aboard the ISS speak to a group of students in Green Bank, West Virginia via the ARISS program.
This stuff never gets old.
Here we are standing in the front yard with a handheld radio listening live to an astronaut passing overhead in a football field-sized space station travelling at five miles per second.
This was just one exchange I recorded. At one point, the audio was so good we could actually hear the hum of equipment, and other astronauts speaking and working in the background.
Geneva has a laser focus on making a career in spaceflight, so she absolutely loves this sort of thing.
How to listen to the ISS
Listening to the ISS is very easy: The frequency of the downlink is 145.80 MHz FM. Any scanner or handheld radio that can receive this frequency will work. As the ISS climbs above the horizon, because of doppler-shift, start listening on 145.805, then slowly move to 145.80 as the ISS approaches zenith and finally move to 145.795 MHz as the ISS drops toward the other horizon.
On April 18, consider setting your scanner or handheld VHF radio to 145.80 MHz around 15:57 UTC; you may be able to hear the downlink from the International Space Station. The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) contact will be between between NA1SS (on the ISS) and KD2IFR at a school in Central Islip, NY.
As long as you’re within the ISS’ signal footprint (which is rather large) you should be able to easily hear NA1SS’ side of the conversation. I’ve listened to the downlink in the past using an Icom ID-51a and the super compact Yaesu VX-3R:
The frequency of the downlink will be 145.80 MHz. As the ISS climbs above your horizon, because of doppler-shift, listen on 145.805, then move to 145.80 as the ISS approaches zenith and finally move to 145.795 MHz as the ISS drops toward the other horizon. As we’ve mentioned in past posts, you’ll know when to switch frequency when the audio gets bad.
Upcoming ARISS contact with Central Islip Union Free School District, Central Islip, NY
An International Space Station school contact has been planned with participants at Central Islip Union Free School District, Central Islip, NY on 18 April.
The event is scheduled to begin at approximately 15:57 UTC. The duration of the contact is approximately 9 minutes and 30 seconds.
The contact will be direct between NA1SS and KD2IFR. The contact should be audible over the state of New York and adjacent areas. Interested parties are invited to listen in on the 145.80 MHz downlink. The contact is expected to be conducted in English.
Welcome to the Central Islip Union Free School District – Home of the Musketeers and a proud Suffolk County, New York school system, where approximately 8,000 students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12 receive their formal education. Our School District’s motto is Children Our Future ~ Diversity Our Strength. The Central Islip Union Free School District is comprised of eight schools: one district-wide early childhood center, four elementary schools, two middle schools and a high school.
The Hamlet of Central Islip is a vibrant, culturally-diverse community. A suburban community with urban demographics. We are a positive and progressive school district whose teachers are dedicated to helping students achieve their maximum potential and to develop academically and socially. Our district offers an array of afterschool activities including sports, music, theatre arts and much more.
Participants will ask as many of the following questions as time allows:
1. What are the challenges of spending so many months constantly around the same people?
2. What is the best way to describe the feeling of zero gravity?
3. Have you experienced anything unexpected while in space that could not be explained?
4. Have you experienced any significant changes, either physically or emotionally, since being in space?
5. What type of robots do you use on the ISS and how are they helpful?
6. What is your advice for young people who want to become involved in programs at NASA?
7. What is the biggest challenge about being on a long duration space mission?
8. How does digestion in microgravity compare to digestion on Earth?
9. Have you experienced anything in space that has made you change your perspective on life?
10. Are there any plants aboard the ISS and if so, what’s different about how they meet their daily requirements?
11. What are the long term effects of reduced leg muscle use in long duration space travel?
12. Is your circadian rhythm affected by multiple sunrises and sunsets each 24 hour period, perhaps making it difficult to sleep for long periods of time?
13. Can you describe the types of training that prepared you for this mission?
14. Can you catch a cold on the Space Station?
15. Do the properties of light appear to be different in space?
16. Are there differences in how your body responds to physical exertion while in microgravity?
17. Would it be possible to transmit a mechanical wave on a rope onboard the space station or outside the station?
18. What are the hardest tasks to perform in space that are routine on Earth?
19. Could you blow a bigger than normal gum bubble in space?
20. Are there precautions that you take BEFORE going into space that can help to prevent bone weakness when you return?
PLEASE CHECK THE FOLLOWING FOR MORE INFORMATION ON ARISS UPDATES:
Visit ARISS on Facebook. We can be found at Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS).
To receive our Twitter updates, follow @ARISS_status
Next planned event(s):
1. King’s High School, Warwick, UK, direct via GB4KHS
The ISS callsign is presently scheduled to be OR4ISS
The scheduled astronaut is Ricky Arnold KE5DAU
Contact is a go for: Thu 2018-04-19 12:05 UTC
2. Russian school TBD
The ISS callsign is presently scheduled to be RS?ISS
The scheduled astronaut is Alexander Skvortsov
Contact is a go for Tue 2018-04-24 11:05 UTC
3. Russian school TBD
The ISS callsign is presently scheduled to be RS?ISS
The scheduled astronaut is Alexander Skvortsov
Contact is a go for 2018-04-25 08:35 UTC
Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) is a cooperative venture of international amateur radio societies and the space agencies that support the International Space Station (ISS). In the United States, sponsors are the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT), the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
The primary goal of ARISS is to promote exploration of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) topics by organizing scheduled contacts via amateur radio between crew members aboard the ISS and students in classrooms or informal education venues. With the help of experienced amateur radio volunteers, ISS crews speak directly with large audiences in a variety of public forums. Before and during these radio contacts, students, teachers, parents, and communities learn about space, space technologies, and amateur radio.
NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson’s 7th Spacewalk (Image source: NASA)
Last night, my buddy Eric McFadden (WD8RIF) notified me that the International Space Station would be making a pass this morning and doing an ARISS contact with three schools in Belgium.
It appears this pass will create an opportunity for some of us at least in eastern North America (and elsewhere) to listen to the transmission live.
The frequency of the downlink should be 145.800MHz. As the ISS climbs above your horizon, because of doppler-shift, listen on 145.805. Switch to 145.800 as the ISS approaches zenith. Switch to 145.795 as the ISS drops toward the other horizon. You’ll know when to switch frequency when the audio gets bad.
[…]The ISS runs real power so an HT with anything but the shortest rubber duck should be OK, particularly when the ISS is well above the horizon. A 1/2-wave whip on the HT is better.
The contact starts at 13:47 UTC (08:47 EST)–about one hour from time of this posting.
As Eric notes, pretty much any VHF handheld radio or scanner can easily receive this contact as long as you can tune to 145.80 MHz +/-.
Last time I was in a place to tune to the ISS, it was with my kids and we all got a kick out of hearing astronauts answer questions from children here on Terra Firma. I wrote a short post about this.
Don’t worry if you miss this ARISS contact–they happen all the time. Check the ARISS “Upcoming Contacts” (http://www.ariss.org/upcoming-contacts.html) page where future ARISS QSOs are listed. No doubt, it will pass over your part of the globe at some point!
Southgate ARC also posted the following announcement with a link to the live webcast:
ARISS contact webcast
On Thursday 12 January 2017, an ARISS contact is scheduled with three schools in Belgium.
Two schools will operate from the Euro Space Center.
Yesterday, my buddy Eric (WD8RIF) sent the following message:
“Take your girls outside with an HT and listen to the ARISS pass in just about 10 minutes. The downlink freq is 145.800.”
Though I was in the middle of another project, I took Eric’s advice: I grabbed my Yaesu VX-3, corralled my daughters and ran outside. Eric’s message was already eight minutes old when I read it, so I only had about two minutes to get ready.
My Everyday Carry (EDC) pack, loaded with all of the essentials.
Fortunately, I always have a Yaesu VX-3R loaded with fresh batteries in my EDC pack (above).
Official NASA portrait of British astronaut Timothy Peake. Photographer: Robert Markowitz
With the VX-3 tuned to 145.8 MHz, we waited as the ISS made its way above the horizon. The downlink audio of astronaut Tim Peake (KG5BVI) communicating with Walter Jackson Elementary in Decatur, Alabama, started to punch through the static after a minute or two. We listened the entire time we had line-of-sight to the ISS–about five minutes or so. We were pretty deep in a valley at that point, so I’m pleased we were able to catch even that much of a pass.
Of course, we could only hear one side of the conversation: the downlink from the International Space Station.
It was a memorable event for my girls who have seen ISS passes at night, but had never heard live audio from an astronaut before.
Eric pointed me to the ARISS “Upcoming Contacts” (http://www.ariss.org/upcoming-contacts.html) page where future ARISS QSOs are listed. Evidently, this particular ARISS QSO was the third Eric had monitored in two weeks.
Pretty much any receiver that can tune to 145.80 MHz FM–or a VHF scanner–can hear the ARISS downlink as long as the ISS is passing overhead during the transmission. Of course, if you have a high-gain antenna that can track the ISS as it moves across the sky, you’ll get even better results than I did with my basic rubber duck antenna.
My advice? If you want to impress a child (or your inner child–!) find a little time to listen to a future ARISS QSO!
Indeed, the next step for me is to see if I can propose an ARISS QSO for our school group!
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