For immediate release--
CAMDEN, South Carolina USA--An informal network of ham radio experimenters, scientists, and CW fans called FlyVenusCom has been created to support communication efforts by Japanese
scientists with its CubeSat Venus probe, UNITEC-1.
UNITEC-1 was developed by 20 universities of UNISEC (University Space Engineering Consortium), the Japanese community developing nano-satellites. Specifically, the Japanese UNITEC-1
team has called for ham radio assistance worldwide in improving and testing two areas of the CubeSat's Mission:
Technologies to receive and decode very weak and low bit rate signal coming from deep space
Technologies to estimate orbit and signal Doppler shift of the satellite based on the received RF signal, essential for tracking and receiving signals from a satellite in deep space.
According to William F. Vartorella, KJ4ORX, who is spearheading the informal FlyVenusCom effort, "The wave of the future is increasingly small, inexpensive, private and non-profit enterprise satellites. The trade-off is many of these satellites will not have sufficient power for robust communications." Weak signal challenges and research publications have been the hallmark of ham radio since at least the 1920s, according to Vartorella. What should spur ham interest is that UNITEC-1 will transmit an amateur radio telemetry beacon at 5.840 Ghz.
"Big dish" participation is already beginning to gell, Vartorella explained. "But monitoring and reporting the signal is just part of the equation."
According to the Japanese team, "As the signal from UNITEC-1 is mainly CW beacon of about 1 bps speed, it would also be possible to duplicate the received signals from several antennae to make S/N ratio higher so that we can decode the signal from UNITEC-1 while flying further away from the Earth. This experiment can also be performed in a competition style. We would greatly appreciate it if radio amateurs would propose interesting experiments or competitions making the most of the UNITEC-1 launch and operation opportunity."
At the core is the Japanese consortium's emphasis that this is the first university developed interplanetary satellite, "as well as the first amateur interplanetary satellite . . . which will provide a unique and exciting opportunity for the radio amateurs all over the world to enjoy reception of signals from deep space."
"Not many of us have either a big dish in the back yard or access to one," Vartorella noted. "With FlyVenusCom we're trying to engage the broader amateur radio community for ideas, experiments, and weak signal `home-brew' experience to help not only the Japanese students' efforts, but the potential creation of disruptive technologies that will evolve into shareware for all
FlyVenusCom is intended as an informal portal or clearinghouse for dissemination of information to the Japanese team at Tokyo University, as well as a discussion list of challenges, innovations, and next steps.
"There is already shareware available for weak signal and the Japanese are proffering support information," Vartorella said. "This is also a great opportunity generally for the growing CW community worldwide to show off their talents and innovative ideas." He is especially interested in one-page research suggestions which can be forwarded to the UNITEC-1 team at Tokyo University,
with whom he has been in contact for several months.
Vartorella holds an earned Ph.D. with a sub-specialty in satellite transnational issues. FlyVenusCom is a totally nonprofit, cross-cultural effort, he said.
Those interested in UNITEC-1 and suggesting research ideas, competitions, or other approaches on a listserve, may contact Vartorella at email@example.com or c/o
William F. Vartorella, Ph.D., C.B.C.
P.O. Box 1376
Camden, SC 29021 USA