Image © 2015 UKSA and ESA
Working with the UK Space Agency, ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) have developed a programme which will enable a number of schools to speak directly to Tim Peake, the first British ESA astronaut to visit the station, during the duration of his stay. This will enable live interaction between pupils and Tim and is anticipated to be one of the highlights of the Principia STEM outreach programme. During his 6 month mission to the International Space Station starting in December 2015, Tim will be undertaking a wide range of science experiments, some of which have been designed by students from around the UK. Additionally he has committed to take part in a large range of educational outreach activities to schools and colleges around the country. The pre-arranged schools contacts will take place between January and April 2016 and students will be able to put a number of questions directly to the astronaut using amateur radio VHF and UHF radio equipment specially installed at the school for the occasion.
For Tim Peake’s mission, the ARISS team of licensed UK Radio Amateurs is planning a world first by also receiving live video from the ISS during the contact. Using the HamTV transmitter, which has recently been commissioned on board the ISS, Tim will be the first astronaut to use this equipment during a two way schools contact.
As well as building a vehicle based receive system, which will be installed at the school on the day of the contact, the team recently visited Goonhilly Earth Station in Cornwall to commission a dish to receive the 2.4 GHz HamTV transmissions from the ISS. The 3.8 metre dish is being loaned to the project by Satellite Catapult to track the ISS and will ensure real time video will be available during the schools contacts scheduled for early next year. The dish is almost in the shadow of the 29 metre dish “Arthur” built in 1962 to receive the first transatlantic television signals from the Telstar-1 spacecraft.
During the contact at the school the ARISS team will be providing information displays on the ISS position and have webcams showing both the local and Goonhilly dishes as they track the ISS across the sky during the contact. For all the details on the project, download our press release.