On February 3, astronauts on the International Space Station will launch an unlikely satellite: SuitSat. NASA's Frank Bauer explains:
"We've equipped a Russian Orlon spacesuit with three batteries, a radio transmitter, and internal sensors to measure temperature and battery power. As SuitSat circles Earth, it will transmit its condition to the ground."
If you've got a big antennae and a radio receiver tuned to 145.990 MHz FM (click here to find out when it'll pass over your town), you can hear it:
SuitSat transmits for 30 seconds, pauses for 30 seconds, and then repeats. "This is SuitSat-1, RS0RS," the transmission begins, followed by a prerecorded greeting in five languages. The greeting contains "special words" in English, French, Japanese, Russian, German and Spanish for students to record and decipher. (Awards will be given to students who do this. Scroll to the "more information" area at the end of this story for details.)

Next comes telemetry: temperature, battery power, mission elapsed time. "The telemetry is stated in plain language—in English," says Bauer. Everyone will be privy to SuitSat's condition. Bauer adds, "Suitsat 'talks' using a voice synthesizer. It's pretty amazing."

The transmission ends with a Slow Scan TV picture. Of what? "We're not telling," laughs Bauer. "It's a mystery picture."

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