Tracking North Korea’s satellite
It’s been a few days since North Korea put a satellite into space — a massive technological step for the country and something widely condemned by other countries — but we’re still not much closer to knowing anything about what’s up in space.
It only took a few hours for North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the Colorado-based U.S. Canadian air early warning organization, to detect three new objects in space coming from the North Korean rocket. NORAD later detected a fourth object.
The objects have been identified as the Kwangmyongsong 3-2 satellite (the second version of the satellite. The first version was destroyed in April’s failed launch), a rocket booster from the Unha-3 rocket and two pieces of rocket debris.
NORAD has also issued data that describes the orbit of the satellite. Using the data, called a two-line element (below), it’s possible for satellite tracking software to determine where the satellite is at any moment.
And so trackers, including the N2YO online tracker, are active and can indicate where the satellite is at any one time.
This is an important first step for anyone trying to hear any transmissions from Kwangmyongsong 3-2, because it’s only possible to receive signals from the satellite when it’s in range. You can see the area in range at any moment by clicking the “draw footprint” box underneath the N2YO tracker.
So, we know where to point an antenna and when to listen, but we don’t know where to listen.
The most North Korea has said about the satellite is that it would transmit on 470MHz, but we don’t know if that’s an exact frequency or just an indication of the frequency band.
There’s a global frequency band for space to Earth weather satellite communication from 460MHz to 470MHz. Above 470MHz is globally assigned to broadcasting usage, althoug China uses 470MHz to 485 MHz for satellite communications. North Korea doesn’t have such a usage, according to the international frequency band plan from the U.S. FCC. which does list DPRK exceptions in other bands.
It’s also not known what the satellite is transmitting — assuming it’s working.
The satellite was supposed to have several roles.
Kwangmyongsong-3 as an earth observation satellite will assess the distribution of forests and natural resources of the DPRK, the level of natural disaster, the crop estimate, etc. and collect data necessary for weather forecast, natural resources prospecting and others.
Kwangmyongsong-3 has video camera mounted on it and will send observation data including pictures to the General Satellite Control and Command Centre. It weighs 100kg and will circle along the solar synchronous orbit at 500km high altitude. Its life is two years. – KCNA report in March.
That was earlier this year. After this week’s launch, North Korea has said just one thing about its transmissions.
The satellite is now airing ‘Song of General Kim Il Sung’ and ‘Song of General Kim Jong Il’. — KCNA, December 13, 2012.
That mirrors claims the state media made back in 2009 when North Korea first claimed to launch a satellite (something that was widely thought to an unsuccessful launch attempt).
It is sending to the earth the melodies of the immortal revolutionary paeans “Song of General Kim Il Sung” and “Song of General Kim Jong Il” and measured information at 470 MHz. By the use of the satellite the relay communications is now underway by UHF frequency band. — KCNA, April 5, 2009.
But it’s also something that the DPRK never mentioned when talking about Kwangmyongsong 3-1, the first version of the satellite, back in March. Of course, it’s possible the payload has changed, but if so it’s an interesting change.
To-date, no one has reported hearing anything that could be coming from the satellite. No music, no data, no telemetry. Nothing.
It could just be taking time to discover its frequencies. It’s a slow job because the satellite is only in range of any point on Earth for a maximum of about an hour a day, and that’s split into several passes of about 10 minutes long.
But as the days go on, it will become increasingly likely that the satellite has malfunctioned in some way.
No related posts.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Martyn Williams on December 15, 2012 at 07:49, and is filed under Space. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
- In Your Face! World! | 동북아경 (N.E.A.T.)
- Tracking North Korea’s satellite | Korean Missile Crisis.com
- Korea: Tracking North Korean Satellite · Global Voices
- One Year On And It’s All About ‘Kim Jong Il Patriotism’ – Unofficial Network
- North Korean Space Launch – Strategy, Maneuvers and Disinformation « Wikipedia Afficianado
- From Gangnam Style to Jailed Tweeter: Korea in 2012 · Global Voices
- Global Voices | 回顾韩国2012：从江南Style到Tweeter被逮捕事件 – 中国数字时代
- One Year On And It’s All About ‘Kim Jong Il Patriotism’ | NK News – North Korea News
about 3 weeks ago - 1 comment
North Korea has built a new satellite control center, according to state-run media reports on Sunday. Existence of the center was revealed with news that Kim Jong Un visited the site recently. The exact date of the visit or its location wasn’t disclosed. A little of the center could be seen in images carried by…
about 1 year ago - No comments
North Korea’s Minju Joson newspaper on Saturday criticized the recent launch of a new spy satellite by the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office, according to a report on the state-run Korea Central News Agency. The classified satellite, called NROL-65, was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on August 28 into an orbit that is used…
about 2 years ago - 3 comments
The DPRK has submitted registration papers for the recently launched Kwangmyongsong 3-2 satellite to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. The papers were dated January 24 but were only made available this week by the Vienna-based organization. They were submitted by the DPRK’s diplomatic mission in the city. They don’t provide any new…
about 2 years ago - 7 comments
North Korea’s Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite, launched on December 12 but apparently silent ever since, has been captured on video by a South African satellite watcher. [UPDATED: See below] Greg Roberts posted several video clips on YouTube that show reflections of light from the sides the satellite as it orbits the Earth. The clips are from December…
about 2 years ago - 4 comments
North Korea’s international radio broadcaster, the Voice of Korea, carried two items in English on Wednesday announcing the rocket launch. The first led the news bulletin and was just over two minutes long: The second, announced over a musical bed, was about 3 minutes long and came at the end of the hour-long broadcast: Both…
about 2 years ago - 2 comments
U.S. Space Command is tracking three objects in orbit that apparently came from today’s North Korean rocket launch. The primary object is thought to be the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite. It’s been given the satellite catalog number 39026 and the international designator 12-072A — both identifications that help keep sorted the catalogs of satellites and junk in…
about 2 years ago - 2 comments
The North American Aerospace Defense Command, better known as NORAD, says it tracked the North Korean rocket launch and that it appears to have placed an object in orbit. Here’s the statement, issued out of Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, NORAD said: North American Aerospace Defense Command officials acknowledged today that U.S. missile warning systems…
about 2 years ago - 5 comments
North Korea’s state media has claimed success in its attempt to put a satellite in orbit. Here’s the KCNA bulletin that ran just after noon local time: The second version of satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 successfully lifted off from the Sohae Space Center in Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province by carrier rocket Unha-3 on Wednesday. The satellite…
about 2 years ago - 1 comment
A NorthKoreaTech/38 North exclusive, with contributions by Nick Hansen and Michelle Kae New GeoEye satellite imagery from December 10 shows activity at North Korea’s Sohae Satellite Launching Station (Tongchang-ri) related to the removal of the Unha rocket from the launch pad, a process that is probably still underway and will not be completed before December…
about 2 years ago - No comments
North Korea has extended the launch window for its Unha rocket, a day after saying they were looking to “readjust the launch timing.” The rocket was originally scheduled to launch sometime in a two week window from December 10 and 22nd. The DPRK’s Korean Committee for Space Technology now say the launch window will run an…