Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS)
Commander Tim Kopra talking to students at the University of North Dakota on the historic 1,000th radio call.
At 1:07 pm on March 10, 2016, four hundred K-12 students, teachers, University of North Dakota (UND) students, and community members sat quietly in the Memorial Union’s ballroom at UND and stared straight ahead, listening attentively. The HAM radio, broadcasting silence, suddenly burst out with static. The voice of astronaut Tim Kopra, Commander of the International Space Station (ISS), confirmed he could hear us
loud and clear. The excitement in the room was palpable – we had established the complex link from North Dakota all the way to an orbiting research center flying 200 miles above us, traveling at nearly 18,000 miles per hour. This was NASA’s historic 1,000th ARISS call – and first ISS radio call to North Dakota.
This long-distance connection was made possible by the collaboration between the North Dakota Space Grant Consortium (NDSGC), the Student Amateur Radio Association (SARA), and the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS). The ARISS mentor, Charlie Sufana AJ9N, worked with the NDSGC and SARA for an entire year, helping to make this event a success. With help from the UND Aerospace Network, colleagues, friends, and family from across the nation were able to view the contact through a live video stream.
Sixteen students, ages ranging from second grade to graduate school, asked CDR Kopra their own questions, within a 9-minute contact window. The attentive audience heard responses such as how he became an astronaut, his exercise routine on the Space Station, and advice to work hard in school.
My advice to some of you who might want to work for NASA or any place that requires a high level of academic achievement is to study very hard and work hard in school. When you do well in school and learn a lot, it’s like money in the bank. You can always use that for future opportunities, CDR Kopra stated. He also admitted how he has a new personal photography goal – imaging North Dakota from space!
After receiving classroom visits from the NDSGC team in preparation for this day, students traveled to the event at UND from all across the ND region – Kindred, Grafton, Grand Forks, and even Crookston, MN. They participated in twelve different hands-on activities throughout the morning, such as constructing and launching paper rockets, constructing a robotic CanadArm, and releasing their own Orion Capsules with parachutes. There were four college-level demonstrations: the Radio Association, Formula One Car organization, and two NASA competition teams, Rocketry and Robotics. The UND Space Studies Department provided their interplanetary rover and analog space suits (part of the NASA EPSCoR program), demonstrating their functionality to all of the students. Additionally, the UND Physics and Teaching and Learning Departments provided the GeoDome – an inflatable planetarium – one of the students’ favorite stations.
This historic 1,000th ISS call was successful due to the collaboration between organizations, the gracious volunteers, and the teachers’ flexibility with scheduling. Commander Kopra may have spoken to only 16 students that day, but in fact, he impacted the lives of the entire North Dakota community.
Check out the event’s coverage, highlighted on the web!
- Grand Forks Herald
- Grand Forks WDAZ
- Mrs. Schempp’s video of the interview
- UND’s Video
- Senator John Hoeven’s tweet
- ND Space Grant
Chloe Ondracek, Minot State University, Mathematics
I am currently working towards a major in mathematics and a minor in computer science at Minot State University. For as long as I can remember math has been one of my favorite subjects. I always want to know how things work and why things happen and thus one of the reasons I love math so much is because it explains a lot about the world we live in. I started taking courses at MSU as a dual-credit student when I was still in high school and it was then I met my research advisor. I have been performing undergraduate research for about a year and a half and it has been a wonderful, challenging, and enriching experience which has provided me with many opportunities including presenting my work at several different conferences across the country. Research is a building block to what will hopefully be a successful career in math. In my free time I enjoy dancing, traveling, horseback riding, reading, and music.
Anne Longlet, University of North Dakota, Space Studies
Anne received a B.A. in mathematics and physics from Winona State University in May 2013. She decided to pursue a master’s degree in Space Studies at the University of North Dakota starting in August 2013. She is now a second year graduate student and is emphasizing in planetary science. In the summer of 2014, she completed an internship at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center where she worked on a project involving dust mitigation for the James Webb Space Telescope. After graduating from UND, she plans to either pursue a PhD or pursue a career in the aerospace industry.
Ricardo Alfaro Contreras, University of North Dakota, Atmospheric Sciences
I am originally from Denver, CO and I have always had an interest in space. This led me to a BA in Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences from the University of Colorado at Boulder. While an undergraduate, I worked as an intern for the Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy as a member of a laboratory team on the LUNAR project, designing and building a mechanism which could deploy future radio telescopes on the surface of the moon. I received my MS from the University of North Dakota in Atmospheric Sciences with a thesis on investigating deficiencies in cloud property retrievals from space-borne satellite sensors due to aerosols suspended above the clouds. My current work involves a long-term study of the above-cloud aerosol phenomena, as well as other-cloud aerosol-interaction studies and atmospheric modeling using the Weather and Research Forecasting model. In my spare time, I love playing sports like football and soccer. I also enjoy spending a beautiful Colorado day outdoors with my family, especially my two year old son.
Brett Sergenain, University of North Dakota, Geography
Brett Sergenian is a 2014 graduate with a Master’s degree in geography from the University of North Dakota. During the summer of 2013, Brett compiled and summarized literature on using remote sensing for groundwater targeting for Dr. Santosh Seelan, who is publishing a paper on the topic. It was a great experience for Brett and he hopes to continue to work with remote sensing data. Currently, Brett is employed in Idaho working with GIS. Brett’s interests include GIS, remote sensing, LiDAR, groundwater data, and spatial statistics.
Karl Williams, University of North Dakota, Space Studies
The fall of 2014 marks the start of my final year as a master’s student in Space Studies. While finishing classes I will be working on my Individual Research Project focusing on the use of super synchronous transfer orbits for satellites traveling from LEO to GEO under the advisement of Professor David Whalen. I am also working as a Graduate Teaching Assistant under Dr. Whalen for the undergraduate introductory course Space Studies 200. I am very excited to begin this last year as it is the last step to beginning my career in a space related field, as well as it should be the most engaging and exciting year yet in my graduate career. Outside of school I like to hunt and fish, and I have recently picked up archery as a new hobby. I enjoy the fall the most, as it is the season during which I get to spend the most time seeing what nature has to offer.