LinkSat is the University at Buffalo Nanosatellite Laboratory’s third mission. It is a 3U Nanosatellite funded by NASA’s Undergraduate Student Instrument Project with Dr. Manoranjan Majji as the Principal Investigator. It’s goal is to measure the orbital radio frequency noise environment across commonly used nano-satellite frequency bands (Specifically, we will focus on the 137/400 MHz space research bands, the 435/900/1290 MHz amateur radio bands, and the 2.4 GHz ISM bands). It aims to create a numerical model of the noise environment capturing geographic variation, time-of-day variation, and statistical properties that will be used to predict the performance of small satellite communication systems. Our mission also aligns nicely with a recent FCC initiative to develop a better understanding of the radio frequency noise environment due to the recent proliferation of amateur communication devices.
In recent years, the usage of devices which emit radio waves has sky rocketed. With the wide spread proliferation of Wi-Fi, Blue Tooth and other amateur devices, the amount of RF noise in space has dramatically increased, but no one is quite sure what the true impact has been. The new noise levels can have a negative impact on satellite communication systems, and because of this the topic has peaked the interest of organizations such as NASA and the FCC. By carefully measuring what the noise levels are, we can understand how to build more efficient communications systems which can deal with the new noise environment.
A precursor to LinkSat was started in 2013, when a group of Electrical Engineering students began developing a high altitude weather balloon experiment which aimed to measure the RF noise floor in the upper atmosphere. A proposal was submitted to NASA’s Undergraduate Student Instrument Project in 2015, and the grant was awarded to UB in early 2016. LinkSat will have an 18 month development period starting in October of 2016, and will hopefully be launched into Orbit in 2021.