Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Rustling up more services for the bush - Sky Muster NBN1A Launch

Image Credit: P.Lake 60 Sec Luminance on Takahashi FSQ106 T12 at Q62

I like the name ...... Sky Muster, it taps into the rich heritage of the Australian cattlemen and women, stockmen, jilleroos, even the Banjo Patterson text "Man from Snowy River". Its all about rustling up some more broadband and access for the people of rural Australia and lifting the capability of rural Australia. Some people would see living remotely as advantageous, peace and quiet, the great outdoors, but the tyranny of distance has always meant is much harder to provide services - and today services means data access.

So I love the name, its certainly better that the Argentinian satellite on the same flight, Arsat-2 (just making sure I spelt that right .... yes I did) ;-)

Sky Muster or otherwise known as Satellite NBN1A was launched on Sept 30th on an Ariane 5 flight VA226 and took up its spot as a Geo-Stationary communications satellite designed to bring high speed broadband to Rural Australia.

There is a great animation here of the launch vehicles and satellites from the KNews team in Germany......

Well this is as close as Australia has to a Space Program at the moment, (in fairness we do lots of cool stuff from the ground).

I saw a note earlier that the satellite had successfully deployed it's solar panels and was healthy and well, so I thought I take a photo of it to celebrate. So, logging into the Internet of Everything (IoE), and using a remote telescope at Siding Spring Observatory I was able to grab a few shots of it and a few of its neighbors.

In the early part of the evening after the sun has set and the satellite is still in the sunlight (as its 36,000 Klms up) it is possible to grab some photos with a powerful telescope, kind of like photographing a bus from 36,000 Klms - difficult, but it can be done!

Those large solar panels are giving of a bit of reflected light and brighter than the Russian Express-AM5 which is 400Kgs heavier. You can also just faintly make out the Himawari 8 and the much smaller Beidou Chinese Sat-Nav satellite as well. You can also see another (non-geostationary) comms satellite cutting across the image as well.

The images are 60sec exposures from a Takahashi FSQ Petzval 106mm refractor telescope with a large field of view. The background stars look still and the movement of the geostationary satellite of course reflects the speed of rotation of the earth. They are hooting along quite quickly.

I trust the cattlemen, shepherds, wheat farmers and all rural folks get great use out of this investment in Sky Muster - I just had to take a photo of it. Congrats again Andy and all the NBN team.

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