March 2, 2003

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Pioneer 10, SK

Pioneer 10, the first spacecraft to venture out of the solar system, has fallen silent after traveling billions of miles from Earth on a mission that has lasted nearly 31 years, NASA said Tuesday.

What was apparently the spacecraft's last signal was received Jan. 22 by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Deep Space Network. At the time, Pioneer 10 was 7.6 billion miles from Earth; the signal, traveling at the speed of light, took 11 hours and 20 minutes to arrive.

The signal and the two previous signals were very faint. The Deep Space Network heard nothing from Pioneer 10 during a final attempt at contact on Feb. 7. No more attempts are planned.

Pioneer 10 was launched March 2, 1972, on a 21-month mission. It became the first spacecraft to pass through the asteroid belt and the first to obtain close-up images of Jupiter. In 1983, it became the first manmade object to leave the solar system when it passed the orbit of distant Pluto.

Although Pioneer 10's mission officially ended in 1997, scientists continued to track the TRW Inc.-built spacecraft as part of a study of communication technology for NASA's future Interstellar Probe mission. Pioneer 10 hasn't relayed telemetry data since April 27.

"It was a workhorse that far exceeded its warranty, and I guess you could say we got our money's worth," said Larry Lasher, Pioneer 10 project manager at NASA's Ames Research Center.

Pioneer 10 carries a gold plaque engraved with a message of goodwill and a map showing the Earth's location in the solar system. The spacecraft continues to coast toward the star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus. It will take 2 million years to reach it.

The Pioneer home page is

[ANS thanks Florida Today for the above information.]

ISS Active on Voice

Stan/W4SV reported working the International Space Station this past week:

I worked Don Pettit this morning, Feb 27, at 1009 UTC. This was only the 2nd time I've heard him on the air (last time was Jan 5th) though I am aware that he has been on at least one or two other times making random contacts. No, not as active as previous crews... but that's the way it goes sometimes. Good luck!

73 de Stan/W4SV

[ANS thanks Stan, W4SV, for the above information.]

OSCAR Satellite Communications Achievement Award

As of today, all AMSAT awards should be sent to me, KK5DO, for issuance (except K2ZRO Engineering Award should we start to issue it again on AO-40). The Communicators Club and the W4AMI Award used to go to AMSAT HQ. For easy of issuance, I will now be doing all of them.

Several awards were issued today.

Congrats go out to Steven Michalski, Jr, KB9UPS, for earning his OSCAR Satellite Communications Achievement Award. He is recipient #367.

Also, congrats go out to Scott Fawcett, KF2ZQ, for earning his OSCAR Satellite Communications Achievement Award. He is recipient #368 and his OSCAR Sexagesimal Award #127 and the South Africa AMSAT Satellite Communication Achievement Award #US73.

To see this award and a list of other awards, visit

Bruce Paige, KK5DO

[ANS thanks JoAnne, WB9JEJ, for the above information.]

NASA's Newest Seawinds Instrument Breezes Into Operation

The Seawinds scatterometer, one of NASA's newest Earth-observing instruments launched In December 2002 aboard the Japanese Advanced Observing Satellite "Midori 2," successfully transmitted its first radar pictures to Earth.

The released image, obtained from data collected on January 28 and 29, depicts Earth's continents in green, polar glacial ice-covered regions in blue-red and sea ice in gray.

Color and intensity changes over ice and land are related to ice melting, variations in land surface roughness and vegetation cover. Ocean surface wind speeds, measured during a 12-hour period on January 28, are shown by colors.

Blues correspond to low wind speeds and reds to wind speeds up to 15 meters per second (30 knots). Black arrows denote wind direction. White gaps over the oceans represent unmeasured areas between SeaWinds swaths (the instrument measures winds over about 90 percent of the oceans each day).

SeaWinds transmits high-frequency microwave pulses to Earth's land masses, ice cover and ocean surface and measures the strength of the radar pulses that bounce back to the instrument.

It will complement and eventually replace an identical instrument orbiting since June 1999 on NASA's Quick Scatterometer (QuikScat) satellite. Its three- to five-year mission will augment a long-term ocean surface wind data series that began in 1996 with launch of the NASA Scatterometer on Japan's first Adeos spacecraft.

Seawinds will provide the world's most accurate, highest resolution and broadest geographic coverage of ocean wind speed and Direction, sea ice extent and properties of Earth's land surfaces. It takes millions of radar measurements covering about 93 percent of Earth's surface every day, operating under all weather conditions, day and night. Over the oceans, SeaWinds senses ripples caused by the winds, from which scientists can compute wind speed and direction. These ocean surface winds drive Earth's oceans and control the exchange of heat, moisture and gases between the atmosphere and the sea.

Climatologists, meteorologists and oceanographers will soon routinely use data from SeaWinds on Midori 2 to understand and predict severe weather patterns, climate change and global weather abnormalities like El Nino.

The data are expected to improve global and regional weather forecasts, ship routing and marine hazard avoidance, measurements of sea ice extent and the tracking of icebergs, among other uses.

[ANS thanks Space Daily for the above information.]

ARISS Contact with Japanese School First Since Columbia Tragedy

Pupils at an elementary school in Japan have been the first youngsters to speak to the astronauts aboard the International Space Station since the shuttle Columbia tragedy. The contact took place February 18 between 8N3HES at the Hirano Elementary School and astronaut Don Pettit, KD5MDT, at the controls of NA1SS. The direct 2-meter contact was arranged by the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program, which has been on hold since the shuttle catastrophe.

No one asked any questions about the Columbia tragedy during the approximately 10-minute contact that was marred by some communication difficulty. An audience of approximately 180 people -- essentially the entire school plus several reporters -- was on hand for the ARISS contact. Pettit managed to answer eight of the nine questions put to him by the fifth and sixth graders

One student wanted to know what Pettit would bring with him if he had to live in space for the rest of his life. "I would hope to bring my whole family," Pettit responded. "I would bring my wife and my children and we would live in space together."

Because of the Columbia disaster, the mission of the Expedition 6 crew members already has been extended until at least June. It had been scheduled to end next month.

Other students asked questions relating to everyday life aboard the space station, including how the crew gets rid of its trash. Pettit explained that after putting the trash into airtight bags, it's loaded on an empty Progress cargo supply rocket and sent back into Earth's atmosphere. "It's the ultimate means of recycling your garbage," he said.

Pettit told the youngsters that it's "nice and warm" aboard the space station -- about 22 degrees Centigrade -- but that the crew could set the temperature to whatever they desired.

One student asked what the crew would do if someone became ill. "Fortunately no one has become sick on our mission, so we haven't had to worry about that," Pettit replied. He said that in the case of sickness among the crew, the crew would contact flight surgeons on Earth to get advice. He also explained that the crew has a medical kit on board for those kinds of situation.

The Hirano Elementary School is in Kobe, Japan. The school opened in 1876.

An ARISS contact with students at Oregon State University is scheduled for February 21.

[ANS thanks ARRL for the above information.]

Two Astronauts on the ISS?

Two American astronauts aboard the international space station wiggled and tugged to get out of bulky spacesuits by themselves to test whether a two-person crew can stay aboard while the shuttle fleet is grounded.

Normally the space station has a three-person crew.

Flight managers wanted to see if the astronauts could put on and take off their spacesuits by themselves without the assistance of a third crew member. A member of a two-man crew would have to know how to take off the suit alone in case the crewmate became incapacitated.

Commander Ken Bowersox and science officer Don Pettit completed the test successfully in less than the allotted three hours on Monday. The space station's third crew member, Russian flight engineer Nikolai Budarin, videotaped the test and offered suggestions to his crewmates.

NASA and its international partners must decide whether to keep three people aboard the station or reduce its crew to two. A two-person crew would put less demands on supplies at the space station. Crew members now must rely on Russia's space vehicles to deliver water, food and supplies instead of the much larger shuttles.

The shuttles were grounded after Columbia disintegrated as it re-entered the atmosphere, killing all seven astronauts.

A decision on when the shuttles will fly again will not come until an investigation into Columbia is completed.

The space station crew members conducted the spacesuit test 246 miles above Earth.

Bowersox struggled for several minutes to emerge from the bulky spacesuit. He submerged his head into the suit and tugged on his sleeves. When that didn't work, he took the pants portion off. He then leaned his body onto tethers stretched across the air lock and used the resistance of the tethers to pull off the top half of the suit.

Workers at NASA's Johnson Space Center applauded and Bowersox pumped his fist in the air.

"The Sox kind of reminded me of a withering insect crawling out from its chrysalis," said Pettit, using Bowersox's nickname. "Except that insect turns into a beautiful butterfly."

[ANS thanks CNN for the above information.]

Soyuz to Ferry ISS Crews

NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe told a congressional panel February 27 that space agency officials had reached an agreement Wednesday with International Space Station partners to keep the orbiting research platform functioning for at least the next 18 months.

The two astronauts and one cosmonaut currently on board the station will return to Earth in late April or early May aboard the Soyuz capsule docked with the station. They will be replaced by one astronaut and one cosmonaut, who will fly to the station on a new Soyuz. They are training at Star City in Russia.

Having two people aboard will help extend supplies while the shuttle fleet remains grounded, pending the outcome of the Columbia accident investigation.

Russia has agreed to accelerate the delivery of two Progress re-supply vehicles so that there will be four Progress delivery ships this year and five next year, O'Keefe said.

The autonomous vehicles are used to deliver food, water and other supplies but lack the large cargo capacity of a U.S. shuttle.

Soyuz flights to the station will continue on a their regular six-month

[ANS thanks Florida Today for the above information.]

First Mars Exploration Rover Arrives At Cape For May Launch

The first of two Mars Exploration Rovers, MER-2 arrived at the Kennedy Space Center today from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The cruise stage, aeroshell and lander for the Mars Exploration Rover-1 mission also arrived today. This same flight hardware for the MER-2 rover arrived January 27, however this rover is scheduled to arrive at KSC around March 10.

The Boeing Delta II vehicle for the first launch of the two launches scheduled on May 25 is planned for erection on the pad at Space Launch Complex 17 beginning April 18. The Delta for the second launch on June 30 will begin erection activities on May 1. Each spacecraft will receive a MER-A or MER-B designation once they arrive at the pad.

While at KSC, each of the two rovers, the aeroshells and the landers will undergo a full mission simulation. All of these flight elements will then be integrated together.

After spin balance testing, each spacecraft will be mated to a solid propellant upper stage booster that will propel the spacecraft out of Earth orbit. Approximately ten days before launch they will be transported to the launch pad for mating with their respective Boeing Delta II rockets.

[ANS thanks Space Daily for the above information.]

Upcoming ARISS Contact Schedule as of 2003-02-28 18:00 UTC

[Editors Note... Due to the length of this weeks ANS bulletin, the provisional questions from the educational institutions have been moved to a separate document, which will be posted with this bulletin. This has been done to help those who read the main body of the news over the air.]

The ARISS (a joint effort of AMSAT, the ARRL, NASA, the ARISS international partners including Canada, Russia, the European Partners, and Japan) operations team wishes to announce the following very tentative schedule for ARISS school contacts. This schedule is very fluid and may change at the last minute. Remember that amateur radio use on the ISS is considered secondary. Please check the various AMSAT and ARISS webpages for the latest announcements. Changes from the last announcement are noted with (***). Also, please check for possible live retransmissions ( Listen for the ISS on the downlink of 145.80 MHz.

For information about educational materials available from ISS partner space Agencies, please refer to links on the ARISS Frequently Asked Questions page.

If you are interested in supporting an ARISS contact, then you must fill in an application. The ARISS operations mentor team will not accept a direct request to support an ARISS contact.

You should also note that many schools think that they can request a specific date and time. It does not work that way. Once an application has been accepted, the ARISS mentors will work with the school to determine a mutually agreeable date.

Websites that may be of interest include:

Your completely filled out application should be returned to the nearest coordinating ARISS region if your specific region is not listed. E-mail is the preferred method of submitting an application.

Here are the email addresses:
ARISS-Canada and all other countries not covered: (Daniel Lamoureux VE2KA)
ARISS-Europe: (J. Hahn, DL3LUM / PA1MUC)
ARISS-Japan and all Region 3 countries: (Keigo Komuro JA1KAB)
ARISS-Russia: (Valerie Agabekov N2WW/UA6HZ)
ARISS-USA: (The American Radio Relay League)

ISS Expedition 6 crew:
Kenneth Bowersox KD5JBP
Nikolai Budarin RV3FB
Donald Pettit KD5MDT

Hochwald-Gymnasium, Wadern, Germany, Direct via DL0WR
2003-02-27 10:21 UTC
Contact was a success! (***)
Congratulations to Don Pettit and Hochwald-Gymnasium! (***)

ISIS Malignani, Cervignano del Friuli, Italy
2003-03-06 08:33 UTC

Krueger School of Applied Technology, San Antonio, Texas
Fri 2003-03-07 16:57 UTC (***)

Saint Ursula's College, Toowoomba, Australia

Field School Park Ridge, Illinois

Cowichan Secondary School, Duncan, BC, Canada, Direct via VE7POH

Lounsberry Hollow Middle School, New Jersey

Higashi Kaneko Junior High School, Japan

Osnovna Sola Selnica ob Dravi Slovenia (***)

The latest ARISS announcement and successful school list is now available on the ARISS web site. Several ways to get there.

Latest ARISS announcements and news

Successful school list


click on English (sorry I don't know French)
you are now at
click on News

Currently the ARISS operations team has a list of over 60 schools that we hope will be able to have a contact during 2003. As the schedule becomes more solidified, we will be letting everyone know. Current plans call for an average of one scheduled school contact per week.

[ANS thanks Charlie, AJ9N, for the above information.]

Hochwald-Gymnasium / Pettit ARISS QSO

Congratulations to Don Pettit and Hochwald-Gymnasium for a successful ARISS contact!

The QSO took place on 27 February between Pettit and Hochwald-Gymnasium in Wadern, Germany.

[ANS thanks Charlie, AJ9N, for the above information.]

Weekly Satellite Report

Link to the weekly report on satellite ...

All Satellites
ISS. RS-12. RS-13. RS-15. RS-20. AO-7. AO-10. UO-11. UO-14. AO-16. LO-19. FO-20. UO-22. KO-23. KO-25. IO-26. AO-27. FO-29. GO-32. SO-33. PO-34. UO-36. AO-40. SO-41. SO-42. NO-44. NO-45. MO-46. AO-49. SO-50

Please send any amateur satellite news or reports to the ANS Editors at

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This week's AMSAT News Service bulletins were edited by AMSAT News Service Editor Scott Lindsey-Stevens, N3ASA,