Posted on 16/05/2014 by Daniel
Sending a signal into the future
On 15 May, ESA’s 35m deep-space tracking station located at Cebreros, 77 kms west of Madrid, Spain, transmitted a 35-MB archive file containing the Top 10 video selfies from the Rosetta Wake Up campaign into space. (If you’d like, you can download the actual file that was transmitted here.)
See A light-speed voyage to the future for background.
Since they’re located in Spain – and they were one of our Top 10 Wake Up Rosetta participants – we’ve invited a group of students from Colegio Público (Peñaluenga) De El Castillo De Las Guardas, near Seville, to make a bus trip to ESA’s ESAC Establishment, near Madrid, to help our Estrack engineers send the signal.
The 26 students and 4 teachers crowded around an Estrack console work station at ESAC, while Cebreros station manager Lionel Hernandez briefed them on how tracking stations work. Shortly after 14:00 CEST, Lionel called over to the Estrack control room at ESOC, where station engineer May Aimee Larsen was sitting at a similar console, commanding the 35m station antenna at Cebreros; May was assisted by Holger Dreihahn.
May set up Cebreros to zenith pointing (almost straight up, at 89.99deg) and then waited for Lionel’s command on the voice loop; Lionel, in turn, asked if she could accept a shouted command from the students – of course, she could! Lionel led the count down, and at 14:22 CEST, with a loud shout of ‘SEND’, the signal was transmitted. Sending took about 3 minutes.
Many thanks to the students and teachers for their assistance in helping us close out the Rosetta Wake Up campaign and send a signal to the future!
You can read their excellent team project, which they delivered to ESAC on 15 May, on how to colonise an exoplanet in the future here.
Here’s a selection of photos.