NanoSail-D ejects: NASA seeks amateur radio operators' aid to listen for beacon signal

January 20, 2011 By Kim Newton
NanoSail-D satellite during deployment testing. (NASA/MSFC)

Wednesday, Jan. 19 at 11:30 a.m. EST, engineers at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., confirmed that the NanoSail-D nanosatellite ejected from Fast Affordable Scientific and Technology Satellite, FASTSAT. The ejection event occurred spontaneously and was identified this morning when engineers at the center analyzed onboard FASTSAT telemetry. The ejection of NanoSail-D also has been confirmed by ground-based satellite tracking assets.

Amateur ham operators are asked to listen for the signal to verify NanoSail-D is operating. This information should be sent to the NanoSail-D dashboard at: nanosaild.engr.scu.edu/dashboard.htm . The NanoSail-D beacon signal can be found at 437.270 MHz.

The NanoSail-D science team is hopeful the nanosatellite is healthy and can complete its mission. After ejection, a timer within NanoSail-D begins a three-day countdown as the orbits the Earth. Once the timer reaches zero, four booms will quickly deploy and the NanoSail-D sail will start to unfold to a 100-square-foot polymer sail. Within five seconds the sail fully unfurls.

"This is great news for our team. We’re anxious to hear the beacon which tells us that NanoSail-D is healthy and operating as planned," said Dean Alhorn, NanoSail-D principal investigator and aerospace engineer at the Marshall Center. "The science team is hopeful to see that NanoSail-D is operational and will be able to unfurl its solar sail."

On Dec. 6,, 2010, NASA triggered the planned ejection of NanoSail-D from FASTSAT. At that time, the team confirmed that the door successfully opened and data indicated a successful ejection. Upon further analysis, no evidence of NanoSail-D was identified in low-Earth orbit, leading the team to believe NanoSail-D remained inside FASTSAT.

The FASTSAT mission has continued to operate as planned with the five other scientific experiments operating nominally.

"We knew that the door opened and it was possible that NanoSail-D could eject on its own," said Mark Boudreaux, FASTSAT project manager at the Marshall Center. "What a pleasant surprise this morning when our flight operations team confirmed that NanoSail-D is now a free flyer."

If the deployment is successful, NanoSail-D will stay in low-Earth orbit between 70 and 120 days, depending on atmospheric conditions. NanoSail-D is designed to demonstrate deployment of a compact solar sail boom system that could lead to further development of this alternative solar sail propulsion technology and FASTSAT’s ability to eject a nano-satellite from a micro-satellite -- while avoiding re-contact with the FASTSAT satellite bus.

Explore further: NASA ejects nanosatellite from microsatellite in space

Related Stories

NASA ejects nanosatellite from microsatellite in space

December 7, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- On Dec. 6 at 1:31 a.m. EST, NASA for the first time successfully ejected a nanosatellite from a free-flying microsatellite. NanoSail-D ejected from the Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology Satellite, ...

Sailing Among the Stars

August 18, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA launch will evaluate how a nanosatellite spacecraft and its payload performs.

FASTSAT satellite readies for shipment to Alaska

June 8, 2010

NASA has successfully completed a comprehensive pre-shipment review of the Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology Satellite, or FASTSAT, a small, microsatellite class spacecraft bus that will carry six experiment payloads ...

Successful launch for NASA's microsatellite FASTSAT

November 22, 2010

NASA's Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology Satellite, or FASTSAT, launched at 7:25 p.m. CST Friday aboard a Minotaur IV rocket from Kodiak Launch Complex on Kodiak Island, Alaska. FASTSAT is a unique platform that can ...

Setting sail in the sun

September 3, 2010

Propelled by sunlight pressure, large lightweight sails made of ultrathin aluminum-coated plastic could one day take probes to the edge of our solar system and other stars.

Recommended for you

Jupiter's complex transient auroras

May 25, 2017

Combined observations from three spacecraft show that Jupiter's brightest auroral features recorded to date are powered by both the volcanic moon Io and interaction with the solar wind.

Juno mission to Jupiter delivers first science results

May 25, 2017

NASA's Juno mission, led by Southwest Research Institute's Dr. Scott Bolton, is rewriting what scientists thought they knew about Jupiter specifically, and gas giants in general, according to a pair of Science papers released ...

Methanol detected for first time around young star

May 25, 2017

Methanol, a key building block for the complex organic compounds that comprise life, has been detected for the first time in the protoplanetary disk of a young, distant star. This finding could help scientists better understand ...

New Neliota project detects flashes from lunar impacts

May 25, 2017

Using a system developed under an ESA contract, the Greek NELIOTA project has begun to detect flashes of light caused by small pieces of rock striking the moon's surface. NELIOTA is the first system that can determine the ...

Cassini looks on as solstice arrives at Saturn

May 25, 2017

NASA's Cassini spacecraft still has a few months to go before it completes its mission in September, but the veteran Saturn explorer reaches a new milestone today. Saturn's solstice—that is, the longest day of summer in ...

Discovered: Fast-growing galaxies from early universe

May 24, 2017

A team of astronomers including Carnegie's Eduardo Bañados and led by Roberto Decarli of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy has discovered a new kind of galaxy which, although extremely old—formed less than a billion ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.