HamTV Project to Open 'A New Era' for ARISS
The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS http://ariss.rac.ca/) program hopes an Amateur Radio digital TV system will be up and running aboard the International Space Station by later this year. A project initiated by AMSAT-Italy http://www.amsat.it/, HamTV would provide one-way video and audio from the ISS to complement the FM radio voice link used for ARISS school group radio contacts. According to an overview paper http://www.ariss-eu.org/Ham%20TV.pdf drafted by ARISS-Europe Chairman Gaston Bertels, ON4WF, a DATV downlink on S-Band (2.4 GHz) is under development to place aboard the ISS Columbus module in August. Columbus already sports the necessary antenna. As a debate between the merits of analog versus digital TV aboard the ISS continued, Bertels says, the digital system got a big boost from Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli, IZ0JPA, who had conducted ARISS school contacts in 2010 and 2011, when he was aboard the ISS.
"At the initiative of AMSAT Italy, an Italian manufacturer, Kayser Italia http://www.kayser.it/index.php/exploration-2/ham-tv, presented a project for an Amateur Radio DATV transmitter to ESA http://www.esa.int's [European Space Agency] educational services," Bertels explains in his paper. ESA accepted the proposal in 2012 and contracted with Kayser Italia to develop and manufacture a 10 W EIRP "Ham Video" DATV transmitter for S-Band.
Receiving the DATV signal will be far more demanding than receiving VHF or UHF, Bertels notes in his overview paper. He said a study conducted by Piero Tognolatti, I0KPT, shows "that DATV decoding should be possible for a ground station equipped with a 1.2 meter dish, when the ISS is within a range of about 800 to 1000 km," limiting the DATV reception window to about 3 or 4 minutes during a favorable pass. According to Bertels, Kayser Italia is to provide five ground stations for siting in Europe. "It is hoped that amateurs will support other ground station 'chains' in other countries, as multiple stations are needed to provide up to 15 minutes of video in support of school contacts," Bertels explains in his paper. He says ARISS anticipates that similar chains of ground stations will be set up on other continents, to expand the system's flexibility.
"A new era opens for Amateur Radio on the International Space Station," Bertels concludes. -- Thanks to AMSAT News Service; Kayser Italia
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