NUTS - NTNU Test Satellite, a Norwegian CubeSat Project

NUTS balloon campaign day 2&3

Written by: Frida Vestnes
Published: 02.04.14
The NUTS team went 300 km north of the Article circle to test the latest prototype of the satellite’s communication system. For this a balloon carrying the payload will be launched from the Andøya Rocket Range (ARR) and information will be exchanged via radio link using a special ground station. Read on to learn more about our adventures during our stay in Andøya.

NUTS balloon campaign - Day 2

During the second day of the campaign the NUTS team successfully performed a balloon test launch. This was done along with professional ARR and NAROM personnel. The PTU sonde, measuring pressure, temperature and humidity whilst transmitting its GPS coordinates, reached a maximum altitude of 34 km. 


The test was carried out in order to verify the operational status of the balloon tracking system. The setup receives GPS coordinates from the PTU sonde and calculates the azimuth and elevation for the ground station in real-time. We got great results. With a few more modifications to our prototype we hope to launch the main balloon on Wednesday, if the weather conditions prove to be adequate. 


The NUTS payload section consists of two radio systems. Communication with these is the main aim of this campaign. This is done by tracking the balloon using a directional antennae at the ground. This is the same mode of operation that will be utilized when contacting the NUTS satellite in orbit. 


NUTS balloon campaign - Day 3

Today we went into the day with high spirits and a good working set-up. Along with improved weather conditions we hoped to launch the NUTS communication prototype aboard a weather balloon during the afternoon.


After a brief group picture session, final changes to the set-up were carried out and all parts were installed inside a styrofoam boxing. Since the harsh environment during the flight requires protection of the components. The antennae were mounted and batteries installed as well.


Everything was ready when the ground communication team went out to prepare the station. The Yagi antennae relevant for UHF/VHF communications and tracking of the balloon are located at Andenes high school some 10 minutes drive away from the ARR. Everything was good to go and final tests on both sides were commenced when issues with the packet radio system occurred. Luckily, the problem was observed early enough as to abort the planned launch and postpone it to the next day. Since then the team has been reviewing the packet radio section and trying to locate the error. We hope to launch the balloon early on our last day at Andøya.