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Official NASA Communication 95-204

Official NASA Communication 95-204

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Published by: NASAdocuments on Oct 06, 2007
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Donald L. SavageHeadquarters, Washington, DC November 7, 1995(Phone: 202/358-1547)Jim DoyleJet Propulsion Lab, Pasadena, CA(Phone: 818/354-5011)RELEASE: 95-204SURFSAT SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHED INTO SPACEA satellite payload designed and built by collegestudents was successfully launched Saturday from Vandenberg AirForce Base, CA, onboard a NASA launch vehicle.Now in orbit 746 miles above Earth, SURFSat-1 rodepiggy-back on the upper stage launch vehicle for Radarsat, aCanadian satellite. SURFsat carries low-power radiotransmitters which send in three microwave bands to NASAtracking stations. SURFSat-1 is used for deep spacecommunication research and development, and also will be usedto test a new set of Earth orbit tracking stations.The student project was initiated at NASA's JetPropulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, in 1987 as part of theSummer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program of theCalifornia Institute of Technology. The first objective was todesign, build, launch and operate a low-cost, low-power vehicleto be used to test the performance of space communication inthe new Ka-band, at frequencies of approximately 32 Gigahertz.NASA's Deep Space Network is being upgraded to supporthigher frequency Ka-band transmissions from planetaryspacecraft. This will permit the use of more channels comparedto current X-band deep space links. One purpose of the SURFSatpayload is to test how Earth's atmosphere affects Ka-bandsignals. Despite the new band's potential advantages for deepspace communication, it is expected to be affected more byweather than X-band transmissions.SURFSat-1 carries a pair of beacons, one in each of thetwo bands, which imitate a probe far out in deep space bytransmitting at only a thousandths of a watt of power. As the

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