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Nayif-1 (EO-88) Celebrates a 5th Birthday in orbit!

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Nayif-1 (EO-88) was launched at 03:58 UTC on February 15th 2017 on a PSLV launcher from India. It was part of a world record launch as the C37 flight carried 104 spacecraft into orbit.

Nayif-1 before launch

The transmitter was autonomously activated around 04:47 UTC and the first signals were received and decoded a few minutes later by KB6LTY and within a few hours more than 250 stations around the world had submitted telemetry reports to the Data Warehouse.

After more than 27500 orbits of the earth, the spacecraft continues to function nominally. It switches between high power telemetry when in daylight to low power telemetry and transponder when in eclipse.

Wouter PA3WEG at the groundstation waiting for the first signals

The mission was developed by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and American University of Sharjah (AUS). The UAE’s first Nanosatellite was developed by Emirati engineering students from AUS under the supervision of a team of engineers and specialists from MBRSC within the framework of a partnership between the two entities, aiming to provide hands-on experience to engineering students on satellite manufacturing.

Welcome to 2022

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There are presently three FUNcube based missions in orbit – currently all of them have active, linear U/V transponders. The current status of each of these can always be checked on the useful AMSAT-NA status page https://www.amsat.org/status/ and an update on each of them is provided below. Please have FUN using them!

AO73 – FUNcube1. As previously reported AO73 appears to be experiencing some power issues after 8+years in orbit.

The battery is not charging to the same voltage as it did up to early November last year. The spacecraft has experienced  many months of continuous sunlight over the past couple of years and this has resulted in high  (around +30C) onboard temperatures. This environment may have “cooked” the cells although presently we do not see any direct evidence of this.

We can see that the stable bus voltage indicated at the end of charge is now much lower and depends on the current being taken by the on-board systems. The solar panel currents appear to be similar to those recorded soon after launch. The current best theory is that we are seeing the effect of some increased resistance in the supply circuit between the eps charging circuit and the battery. Although we do not have access to a fully detailed circuit diagram of the EPS we believe that there is an “ideal diode” in this line to prevent discharge of the battery back through the EPS circuitry. We understand that this is actually a MOSFET device and the suspicion is that this may now be showing signs of radiation damage.

So an operational mode has been selected that can be hopefully sustained for some time. From today AO73 is in continuous transponder mode and is available for use 24/7. Low power telemetry is also being transmitted and reports of the data are very welcome via the FUNcube Data Warehouse. Please remember that the uplink frequency varies with on board temperatures. A lower temperature means a higher frequency!

EO88 – Nayif-1. EO88 continues to perform nominally and is switching between high power telemetry for educational outreach when in sunlight and to its U/V transponder mode when in eclipse. It will soon celebrate its 5th birthday in space after launch on 15th February 2017.

JO97 – JY1Sat. JO97 suddenly stopped transmitting telemetry data on May 1st last year. The cause of this anomaly is unknown but fortunately the U/V transponder continues to operate continuously.

FUNcube-1 (AO73) Celebrating eight years in orbit!

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Today marks the eighth birthday of FUNcube-1. Remarkably the tiny spacecraft, launched from Russia on November 21st 2013, continues to work well having travelled more than a billion kilometres in space.

During the past couple of months, the spacecraft’s orbits have been running just along the edge of the terminator. Initially we had  effectively full sun with no eclipses but at the beginning of this month it appears that the solar panels were not receiving enough solar radiation to keep the battery fully charged.  

FUNcube-1 was transmitting continuous high-power telemetry and was therefore consuming maximum power. The screenshot below is from the AMSAT/BATC groundstation at Goonhilly Earth Station. The FUNcube Dashboard shows the rapid decline in the bus voltage from an already below normal 8.0V down to 7.8V. The spacecraft was switched to “safe” mode on the afternoon of November 18th. This reduced to total power consumption by almost 50% and, as can been seen, the spacecraft is again in a happy “power positive” situation.

Although safe mode provides less than 20mW of downlink RF, it is remarkable how many stations are still receiving and decoding the 1k2 BPSK telemetry. This is a good point at which to say a massive thank you to the many many stations around the world who, even after eight years, are continuing to submit their data to the FUNcube Data Warehouse. It really is valuable to the team and has really helped us to understand what is going on up there!

We will continue to monitor the telemetry over the next few weeks and plan to return  FUNcube-1 to nominal autonomous operation, with the transponder on when the spacecraft is in eclipse, as soon as possible.

Interestingly, it appears that we will not be having any more “full sunlight” periods for the foreseeable future., however those that we have experienced have provided some good data on how hot a 1U CubeSat can become in such circumstances!

AO73 – FUNcube-1 will return to full sunlight

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After a few months of normal eclipse periods, FUNcube-1 will, next week, re-enter full sunlight for a period of approximately two months.

As we have been in continuous transponder mode for some time now, we have decided that, during this sunlight period, FUNcube-1 should operate in continuous high power telemetry mode. The change will be made within the next few days.

FUNcube-1 has now been in orbit for almost eight years and the telemetry indicates that all systems, including the battery and solar panels appear to operating as well now as they did immediately after launch!

Raspberry Pi decoder now available

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The FUNcube Raspberry Pi Telemetry Decoder.

The original FUNcube telemetry decoder and Dashboard was designed to run on Windows devices and we did publish the telemetry format in accordance with the Amateur Satellite Service traditions and requirements. We had planned to opensource the Telemetry Decoder and provide an implementation on Linux, but several new missions after the original FUNcube-1 delayed our plans somewhat.

Late 2019, we had the opportunity to develop a low power/low impact ground station, based on Docker containers, for use at the Neumayer III Antarctic base at DP0GVN. This led us to evolve the code such that it would run on a Raspberry Pi. 

The Linux implementation is suitable for use on Raspberry Pi versions from 2B+ to 4 and with a FUNcube dongle (Pro or Pro+). The software will tune a dongle to search for and track all three FUNcube compatible spacecraft currently operational. The Telemetry Decoder is configured with five active decoders operating concurrently so it can deal with situations where more than one of the spacecraft are overhead at the same time.

 The decoder and warehouse uploader run as a Docker container for convenience shell scripts have been provided to launch the container in one of two modes:

The Pi decoder receiving telemetry from JY1Sat in Interactive mode

“Interactive Mode” is when the Telemetry Decoder operates in the foreground , when FUNcube compatible telemetry is received, the corresponding hex data is displayed on the terminal screen. 

“Background Mode” allows the telemetry decoder to run as a Docker image in the background where it operates much like any other background service on Linux. This mode allows for the automatic restarting of the telemetry decoder after a shutdown or reboot of the Raspberry Pi, therefore making it suitable for a remote deployment situation. 

*Both modes, when connected to the internet, will upload the received data to the FUNcube Data Warehouse and the totals displayed on the Ranking Page in the normal manner.

*Uploading to the warehouse requires registration with the FUNcube Data warehouse.

All the code for the telemetry decoder, and the scripts to build the Docker images, are now published online at the FUNcube-Dev GitHub account – https://github.com/funcube-dev under a GPL Open Source License.

Alternatively, it possible to buy a pre-formatted microSD card for the Pi from the AMSAT-UK shop here https://shop.amsat-uk.org/

Full instructions can be downloaded here

FUNcube-1 no longer in full sunlight

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After some eight months in continuous sunlight, FUNcube-1 has now started to see some eclipses during each orbit.

The telemetry received has shown that the spacecraft continued to function perfectly during this period and the on board temperatures did not reach excessively high levels.

After this became clear, our next concern was the battery. Having been kept fully charged for this period, would it actually hold a charge and do its job when in eclipse?

After three weeks of increasing eclipse periods we can now see that indeed the Li battery appears to be ok and the bus voltage has not yet dropped below 8.1 volts.

So today we have changed the operating mode from high power telemetry educational mode to continuous amateur mode withe the transponder ON. The telemetry continues to be available, albeit at low power.

We will, of course, continue to carefully monitor the data but are planning to leave the spacecraft in this mode for at least the next week. Please enjoy using it!

Happy birthday FUNcube-1

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Today, November 21st 2019, marks the sixth birthday of our very first CubeSat mission, FUNcube-1. A very short time after the launch from Yasny in Russia and within a few minutes from deployment, the very first frame of data from the low power transmitter on board, was detected and decoded by ZS1LS in South Africa. He was able to relay the data over the internet from his Dashboard to the Data Warehouse and the numbers, appeared, as if by magic, at the launch party being held at the RSGB National Radio Centre at Bletchley Park.  

After a very brief check out, we were able to switch the transmitter to full power, again at the very first attempt, and were quite amazed at the strength of the signal from the 300mW transmitter on 145.935 MHz. The transponder was then switched on and successfully tested.

We finished the day with a request to AMSAT-NA for an Oscar number and were delighted to receive the AO73  Oscar 73 designation!

Since then, FUNcube-1, with a launch mass of less than 1kg, has operated continuously with only a very few interruptions. In excess of 32000 orbits, 750 million miles travelled, and with more than 7 million data packets downloaded and stored in the Data Warehouse.

The spacecraft is presently in continuous sunlight and to convert as much of the sun’s thermal energy into RF (to help keep it cool), it remains in continuous high power telemetry mode. We anticipate this situation will continue until early May next after which we expect to have 3 months with some eclipse periods.

Of course, EO88 – Nayif 1 continues to operate autonomously with the transponder active when in eclipse and JO99 – JY1Sat, which includes image downloads, and which was launched just under a year ago, also remain active on a 24/7 basis.

We still receive many requests for Fitter message uploads for school events…please contact us by email to operations@funcube.org.uk giving us at least two weeks notice.

We continue to be very grateful to all the many stations around the world that continue to upload the telemetry that they receive to our Data Warehouse. We really need this data to provide a continuous resource for educational outreach.

With that in mind, here is a link to a previous update which shows the correct current Data Warehouse address  and the Dashboard software that can be used for each spacecraft . https://funcube.org.uk/2019/01/21/funcube-dashboard-summary-update/

The AMSAT payload on ESEO has been activated

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ESA have just released a new mission update for the ESEO Mission. It can be seen here https://www.esa.int/Education/ESEO/ESEO_mission_updates

We are delighted that the BPSK telemetry transmitter, on our payload, was enabled for a period of just over 200 minutes in orbit!

Although we were not able to announce this activation in advance, more than ten stations around the world successfully received the telemetry on 145.895 MHz and submitted it to the FUNcube Data Warehouse. We are very grateful to them for their support.

eseo wod temps

Over 50 channels of Real Time and Whole Orbit Data were collected. For example, a number of on-board temperatures are shown in this graph which covers the period from 11:58 to 13:36 UTC

The very last frame received was captured by PQ2HX in Brazil at around 14:17 UTC

eseofinal2

We are keenly awaiting further possibilities to exercise more of the payload as soon as this becomes possible but, in the meantime, is good to know that all the telemetry channels reported nominal values.

ESEO Commissioning starts

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On Monday December 3rd 2018, the 50kg ESA Education Office satellite ESEO was launched by Space-X on the Spaceflight SSO-A SmallSat Express mission.
 
Following the launch from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Air Force Base, ESEO separated from the launch vehicle and automatically activated the periodic transmission of its telemetry beacon. However, by the time out of a predefined period, having not received commands from the ground station, the spacecraft automatically entered into safe mode.


Some initial communications issues were experienced by ESEO in receiving commands from the ground stations in Forli’ (Italy) and Vigo (Spain), but they were resolved when the ESEO team of the Observatory of Tartu offered the possibility to use a ground station in Estonia. This is capable of transmitting with higher power, for a temporary contingent use. The Estonian ground station has been configured to be operated remotely by the ESEO MCC team, which involves students of the University of Bologna.

ESEO then started executing the commands transmitted from ground.

ESEO has now completed the LEOPS  (Launch and Early OPerationS) phase of its mission, reaching the platform nominal mode and has begun the process of commissioning the whole satellite: firstly the platform functions, with the payloads functions following.
 
As part of this commissioning process, but subject to the successful completion of other preparatory tasks of the platform subsystems commissioning, it is anticipated that initial testing of the AMSAT communications payload will be carried out within the next few weeks.
 
AMSAT-UK will endeavour to provide some advance notice of these tests being undertaken, but the first step will be activation of the 1200bps BPSK telemetry beacon on 145.895MHz. The telemetry format matches previous FUNcube missions and data from this beacon will be forwarded to the FUNcube Data Warehouse using any of the FUNcube dashboards. However, to see the decoded values and graphical displays, please download the dedicated ESEO mission dashboard which is available here https://download.funcube.org.uk/ESEO_Dashboard_v1177.msi
 
The payload has, additionally, a high speed, 4800bps BPSK data format downlink and also a Mode L/V FM transponder both of which will be tested.

Further information about ESEO can be seen here: https://www.esa.int/Education/ESEO/ESEO_student_satellite_in-orbit_commissioning_has_started

FUNcube Dashboard Summary Update

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Each satellite carrying a FUNcube payload has a dedicated dashboard and we have updated the one page summary (FUNcube Dashboard Summary v3) of those dashboards, their current version number and a dedicated download link.

Telemetry Dashboard

We have included the recommended warehouse settings for each satellite as well as the “FCD Centre Frequency”.  Note that the frequency we quote is 20kHz offset from the published telemetry downlink to allow for the zero hertz spike and close in phase noise that is inherent on SDRs.

Currently, to view the telemetry for a particular satellite, it is necessary to run the dashboard for that satellite.  Any telemetry for one of the other FUNcube satellites can be captured and forwarded to the central data warehouse.  For this reason, some users tend to run all dashboards simultaneously using the same FUNcube Dongle.  Users should remember the that dashboard that was started last, is the one that will control the frequency settings applied to the FUNcube Dongle.

All the dashboards are under continual development and a further planned development is to create a single dashboard that will service all FUNcube Telemetry payloads simultaneously .  Keep a look out for further news on this unified dashboard in 2019.

73s Ciaran M0XTD