“Pratham” , which was launched on an Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) launch vehicle from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, on September 26, 2016, has started giving signals to the ground station at IIT Bombay after a complete one month of silence.
The satellite had received signals in the first few weeks after its launch on September 26, this year, but had gone quiet in November, due to technical difficulties, causing team members to worry if it was still operational.
“About a week after the launch, beacon signals were recorded at ground stations across the world and at IIT Bombay. After that, for more than a month we were facing technical difficulties, and unable to receive the signal,” said Ratnesh Mishra, project manager, Pratham. While Mishra says that the incoming signal means that the satellite is functional, data transfer is yet to take place.
It was on December 16 that the Pratham team received a message from a HAM group based in Netherlands on having heard the beacon signal. The next morning, on December 17, IITB’s ground station received the signal as well. While the beacon signal has come through, the Pratham team is yet to get lucky with the second signal – the down-link signal – that signifies the functionality of the satellite such as battery voltage and temperature. It’s only when the ground station receives both the signals will they be able to start processing the data, which the team estimates will start next week.
The signal was also received by HAM communities across the world including in the Netherlands, Chicago, Brazil, and Indonesia.