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With all the focus and activity on ISS right now, its good to see posts
anticipating the resumption of real time easily  decoded pictures from
space. I have never seen kids so excited as when they were receiving the
line by line pictures from Mir and shouting "WOW, IT'S AN OUT THE WINDOW

Sorry to hear you only had time for a few  pictures. The story was different
in this household. My son Sean got his ham license at age 9 so he could talk
to the MIR Spacestation and he & I spent many a day with the tracking
program and radio listening for and receiving real time pictures from space.
We would cut post-it-notes into little arrows and paste them on the screen
where we first heard the warbling notes of a Robot 36 picture being sent to
us. At the end of the pass we would look at the out-the-window shots and by
referring to the Post-it Note arrow have a pretty good idea where they were
when it was sent. Then we would race over to the book shelf and grab the
atlas and see if we could find a landmark (rivers were great) and ID towns
and such.....what a wonderful geography lesson for a 9 yr old. What
wonderful times for a father and son. To the day I die I will remember those
special moments of discovery we shared. 

And I am determined to see that SSTV is made continuously weekday available
from ISS on 2 Meters. Nothing that the ham radio community has in its vast
scope of modes and interests comes anywhere close to real-time live pictures
from a spacestation. SSTV shots from space are not the 
esoteric jumble of indecipherable packet text, but impactful images that
both the lay person as well as the technical person can instantly identify with.

We have the method, people and tools right now to establish a highly visible
hands-on learning experience to send to homes and schools across the planet.
Amateur operators have always been recognized for their ability in technical
service to their communities, and with SSTV we have before us an incredible
opportunity to move again to the forefront of public recognition.
Sean and I conducted a NASA school contact with our station with Andy Thomas
onboard Mir and I saw how profoundly enabling an experience it was for not
only my son but for the 5& 6th grade students that conducted the contact on
their own.

No adult ham worked the mic.. an 11yr old student ham Douglass Cockcran
KC2CJT ran the radio on one of the first UHF contacts with Mir and tons of
doppler. My son Sean, newly licensed at age 9, ran the antenna control
position doing a 180 degree flip-over as Mir passed overhead at 17,000 mph.
The students (and Andy Thomas on Mir) experienced an SEU and recovered...
and all the students walked away with a new sense of what they were capable
of doing in their lives, and all that was before them.

THIS IS NO SMALL GIFT that we amateurs in all countries around this planet
can give to not only our children, but to every child in every school. The
Sarex team as well as Marex have over the years opened the eyes of students
all over the world to actively participate in a real on going space mission. 

In programs of incredible technical complexity, never has NASA or Russia's
space program forgotten the children of this planet. Nor should we.

It took 2 1/2 years from time of application to mission contact for the Land
O' Pines School. NASA/ARISS and the Amateur radio community has the ability
to give EVERY student of this planet a meaningful spacestation contact every
90 minuets, 6 times a day, 2 weeks a month......not just 2 schools per
month.  We can do this thru ARISS/NASA transmitting SSTV on 2meters weekdays
so schools can relieve overflights on scanners.

I have in the years following my eye-opening Sarex contact, written a
student/teachers manual for tracking and receiving these signals from space.
School superintendents love the program as it teaches students to use a
computer as a tool not as a push button means of effortless information.
This is an incredibly important point for educators. Wonderful pictures from
the internet or a quick click on Heavens Above is not what they want.  Their
job is to teach how to learn. The manuals I have written show 5-6th graders
how to gather and calculate orbital
paths from keplarian elements and then, in team's, work together to track,
receive and predict, radio, picture and visual missions.

This year while Sean and I were using a borrowed TV studio to shoot pictures
for the student manual, a corporate executive asked what we were doing. We
showed him the tracking program on the laptop and he kept asking ..." where
is the internet connection...?" while looking for the cable behind. We
explained how Nasa doesn't get it from the internet nor do we....this is how
its done in real life. 

Sean noted that ISS was passing in 5 mins and we took this executive out
front of Corporate Headquarters and tuned Tsup with the Russians talking.
Guess what... now we have in development a major corporate sponsor to fund
school visits and perhaps also to donate a leave behind equipment package of
radio tracking, compass and antenna so that the program may continue after
we leave. I am stunned at how enthusiastic educators at all levels (and
corporations as well) are at the potential of this project. While filming a
Discovery Channel show at Johnson Space Center, I spoke to Gene Cernan
about this 'Project Spacecraft Contact' and, although he has focused on high
school aged students, the need to motivate 5-7th graders seems most
appropriate as it is a time in their young lives when they will move to
paths of accomplishment or
low peer pressure. At no time in their development is it more important for
them to have a sense of self worth or self identity than at this age. 

The class starts with a print out of columns of numbers.....visual ISS
passages....indecipherable to them, but by the end of the class not only
have these students listened to a passing spacecraft, they now go home with
a newly generated paper full of numbers that they can interpret..but their
parents can not......and on the lawn that night, as ISS passes overhead, a
10yr old child can explain to his parent(s) keplarian orbital elements,
radio frequencies, doppler, az/el, UTC....and in the process come to find
self-identity and self-worth in all that this child is...and can be. 

Our community of radio operators has before them the ability and opportunity
to to use SSTV signals from ISS to not only recruit the young to our hobby
but more importantly to stand tall in the community and help children find a
path to useful lives. 

To waste ISS 2meter continuous transmissions on packet, not SSTV for
schools, will be a missed opportunity of incredible proportions.

Allen Emer, N2YAC
Sean Emer, KC2DIJ

At 08:46 PM 02/15/2001 +1100, you wrote:
>Hi Everyone,
>   I'm looking foward to some SSTV from the ISS. I know there are just so
>many things to do in a new space station, and so it doesn't suprise me that
>SSTV is somewhat "down the list" but the number of people, both of a
>technical and of a non-technical background who have been facinated by the
>few photos I had managed to download  form MIR amased me. I am used to
>getting semi-disintrest from those (especially kids) who don't have much
>interest in "things that sound too mathematical".
>    The advantage of SSTV is it can be left on all the time if set up
>properly and people all over the world can see what they can download as
>long as they have a receiver of sorts and a computer with appropiate
>software. I think that in itself is of great benefit to schools and it
>dosen't have to prearranged. A great "warm up exercise" for those schools
>who are lucky enought to get an "apointment" and of benifit to everyone else
>Just my thoughts on the issue.
>Murray Peterson

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