SAT

The Importance of My Job

Congratulations, you have been chosen as the Satellite (SAT) officer for this important mission. Your job is to work with the Mission Commander to align the communication satellite and to research the antennas needed to keep the satellites and probes in working order. The probe is the most mission critical component for the success of the mission, as without it we cannot learn what is under Europa’s ice sheets!

You will need to follow every step on this page, without skipping a single step. If you find at any point that the readings from the spacecraft are not safe, you must inform the crew! 

You will be communicating with other teams using the CHAT and your MICROPHONE.

When using CHAT you will see your messages and directions in Purple. Make sure you use the drop down menu to select the correct team you want to send the message to.  Once you have typed it in the CHAT, make sure to hit Enter so that the team receives it.

When using the MICROPHONE your directions and reading will be in Green .  Unmute your MICROPHONE, read your message and make sure you mute after.

SATELLITES

Follow the directions for researching satellites.

1. Read the text about satellites to learn what they do by clicking the box labeled SATELLITES. 

SATELLITES

Satellites are manmade objects put into orbit. On Earth, satellites are used to send television signals, provide phone communications, for navigation (GPS), provide meteorologists with the ability to see weather on a global scale, and monitor safety, among many other things. Outside of Earth’s orbit, satellites are used to understand phenomena such as pulsars and black holes, as well as measure the age of the universe. Satellites can provide information about clouds, land, oceans, and ice, as well as measure gases and energy. 

To ensure that satellite communication between Mission Control and the Spacecraft can work properly, you must work with the Mission Commander on board the Spacecraft to align the communication satellite across three plains.

2. Move to the next section, COMSAT ALIGNMENT.

COMSAT ALIGNMENT

Follow these directions to perform a communication satellite alignment check with the Mission Commander aboard the Spacecraft:

1. Locate the CHAT send the following message to “COM”:

The SAT team has a message for the Mission Commander. A communication antenna alignment check needs to be performed. Please make sure Antenna #1 is in Position C, Antenna #2 is in Position E, and Antenna #3 is in Position B.

2. Wait until the Mission Commander says the antennas are in the correct position, then unmute the microphone and read the following message on the microphone:

This is the SAT team. The communication antenna alignment check is completed.

We have completed our primary objective. 

4. Mute the microphone and continue to the ANTENNA RESEARCH section.

ANTENNA RESEARCH

1. Read the text to learn more about antennas and the Deep Space Network by clicking on the box labeled DSN.

DEEP SPACE NETWORK

Messages travel through space as radio waves, just like the radio waves you receive with a car radio. Each spacecraft has a transmitter and receiver for radio waves as a way of interpreting the information received and acting on it. 

Spacecraft use something called the Deep Space Network (DSN) of radio telescope sites to communicate with Earth. The DSN is NASA’s international array of giant radio antennas that supports interplanetary spacecraft  missions, like the one you are part of today. The DSN also provides radar and radio astronomy observations that improve our understanding of the solar system and the larger universe. The DSN is a powerful system for commanding, tracking, and monitoring the health and safety of spacecraft at many distant locations. The DSN also enables powerful science investigations that probe the nature of asteroids and the interiors of planets and moons. 

The DSN provides a two-way communications link that guides and controls various unmanned interplanetary space probes, and brings back the images and new scientific information these probes collect. All DSN antennas are steerable, high-gain, parabolic reflector antennas. 

2. Open the DSN DATA LOG below and answer the questions. You may need this information later in the mission. Make sure to write it down on the Notepad provided or your own notes. Click “Submit” when you finish answering the questions. 

DSN DATA LOG

OPEN DATA LOG

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Notepad

DSN RESULTS

Send your data from the DSN DATA LOG to the Mission Commander 

1. Locate the CHAT in your call software and send the following message to the “COM”:

This is a message from the SAT team to the Mission Commander. The Juno Spacecraft ________ (is/is not) sending a signal to the DSN.

2. Once you have typed it in the CHAT, make sure to hit SEND or hit ENTER so that the COM officer can read it and deliver it to the Mission Commander.

ANTENNA RESEARCH

Follow these directions to conduct research on antennas.

1. Read the text below to learn more about how antennas are used on satellites.

ANTENNAS
Antennas are one of the keys to satellite communication. There are a wide variety of antenna types that are affixed to satellites for both receiving and sending signals. DSN sites on Earth send signals (through transmitters) to the antennas on satellites.

High-Gain Antenna

  • 10-foot diameter dish antenna for sending and receiving data at high rates
  • Must be pointed accurately
  • The primary means of communication from the probe to the DSN

Low-Gain Antenna

  • Two smaller antennas necessary to provide lower-rate communication during emergencies and special events
  • Has the ability to both transmit and receive data
  • The DSN can “see” the signal even when the spacecraft is not pointed at Earth

To understand the difference between a high-gain and low-gain antenna, consider how a flashlight works: With a tightly focused beam of light (high-gain antenna), you can see farther ahead but not at all to the side. With a wide beam (low-gain antenna) you can see all around you but not very far.

Amplifiers

  • Devices that boost the power of the spacecraft’s radio signals so they are strong enough to be detected by the DSN antennas on Earth
  • Located on the back of high-gain antennas

Transponders

  • Transmitter function: translates digital electrical signals into radio signals for sending data
  • Receiver function: translates radio signals into digital electrical signals for receiving data
  • Navigation function: transmits signals that provide critical navigation clues, helping navigators on Earth make precise calculations on the spacecraft speed and distance from Earth.

2. Open the SATELLITE ANTENNAS DATA LOG below and answer the questions.You may need this information later in the mission. Make sure to write it down on the Notepad provided or your own notes. Click “Submit” when you finish answering the questions.

SATELLITE ANTENNAS DATA LOG

OPEN DATA LOG

Notepad

SATELLITE ANTENNAS

3. After completing the SATELLITE ANTENNAS DATA LOG, locate the chat in your call software.

4. Send the following message to “PROBE”:

This is a message from the SAT team to PROBE. Does the probe have a functional transmitter?

6. Wait until the Probe officer responds with either a “yes” or “no”.

Follow these directions if the probe has a functional transmitter:

  1. Find the MICROPHONE. Unmute and read the following message:

The SAT team has a message for the Mission Commander. We have confirmed with the Probe team that the probe should have a functioning communication system.

2. Mute the MICROPHONE and continue to the next section of your task cards.

Follow these directions if the probe has a functional transmitter:

  1. Unmute the microphone and read the following message LOUDLY:

EMERGENCY! The probe does not have a functional transmitter. The transmitters on the probe need to be replaced immediately to maintain communication after probe launch.

2. If the Mission Commander does not respond, read again.

3. Once the Mission Commander responds, continue to the next section of your task cards.

SATELLITE IMAGERY

Follow these directions to learn about how satellites help provide images of celestial objects.

1. Read about images collected by satellites by clicking the box labeled SATELLITE IMAGERY.

SATELLITE IMAGERY

On Earth, satellites are used daily to capture images of our complex planet. They help us to understand things like ocean currents, weather patterns, and land use. This method of collecting data is known as remote sensing.

Scientists can use satellites to gather data and images of far away celestial bodies as well. Images of Europa collected from various space missions have allowed scientists to better understand the terrain of the icy moon. Better knowledge of Europa has led to further interest in Jupiter’s moon as a place of potential life in our solar system besides Earth.

2. Open the SATELLITE IMAGERY DATA LOG to analyze images of Europa’s surface. You may need this information later in the mission. Make sure to write it down on the Notepad provided or your own notes Click “Submit” when you finish.

SATELLITE IMAGERY DATA LOG

OPEN DATA LOG

Notepad

1. Find the MICROPHONE. Unmute and read the following message:

The SAT team has completed all their tasks.

2. Mute the MICROPHONE and continue working with the DSN Satellites.

DSN SATELLITES

Work with the DSN Satellites

Send and receive signals to the space satellites through the DSN.  Your goal is to send 100% of the signal to each satellite.

Click to go to DSN Uplink-Downlink

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