Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Like a Ham in Mud?

Four satellites carrying amateur radio transponders
were launched together from California on Jan. 31.
(NASA Photo)
Four NASA satellites carrying ham radio transponders were launched on January 31 from California, along with NASA's "Soil Moisture Active Passive," or SMAP, satellite. SMAP is designed to map the amount of moisture in surface soil (a.k.a. mud) around the globe. According to the ARRL, its synthetic aperture radar will operate at 1.26 GHz, within the 23-centimeter ham band (ham radio is secondary on the band). 

The four other satellites all are studying various aspects of space weather and operate on 437 MHz, within the 70-centimeter amateur band. Hams will be able to monitor their telemetry but there is no indication that any of them include transponders for two-way amateur communication.