Satnogs satellite list policy


#1

Hi all,

I am wondering whether there is or it would be good to have a policy to add new satellites in the Satnogs list of objects that can be tracked, in particular for those operating in the radio amateur bands.
According to legislation (in general), to transmit on amateur radio frequencies you need a callsign assigned by national authority and the callsign has to be transmitted periodically to identify the station. I am not sure if all satellite are following these basic rules and it could be that some satellites are not even authorised.
I think it will be good to have a policy to avoid that the amateur radio band becomes a jungle where everyone is transmitting without control. I think this is in the interest of radio amateur community.
For examples, satellites that do not follow some basic rules would not be added to the SATNOGs list of objects. E.g to have the satellite added there must be evidence that the satellite has a proper callsign assigned by a national authority and transmits the callsign in clear mode every some minutes, being clear mode CW or any other agreed one. IARU coordination shall be also indicated as a pre-requisite to have the satellite added (even if this is not mandatory from legal point of view). BTW, in IARU coordination file it can be added the request to provide evidence that authorisation and callsign is granted by national authority.
Of course, this is only valid for satellite in amateur bands.

What do you think? Is it something too demanding to implement?

I agree that this is a libre network, but amateur bands are not!

Alberto IW1FNW & Marco IW1DGG


#2

Hello @iq1ry !

Thanks for bringing this topic up. We have been having this discussion a lot lately and decided we should indeed move ahead and enforce some policies on SatNOGS. The policy to be applied is the following:

For all satellites operating in the Radio Amateur frequencies we will be requiring a way to demonstrate that their frequency usage has been coordinated through IARU. If a satellite owner fails to provide such information the satellite and frequencies will be added in SatNOGS DB but marked as “Violating Frequency” and will not be available for scheduling through SatNOGS Network.

The first step is tracked as an issue opened by @cshields here: https://gitlab.com/librespacefoundation/satnogs/satnogs-db/issues/250

We in Libre Space Foundation and SatNOGS project take frequency coordination and respecting amateur radio regulations very seriously and will do anything to ensure proper adherence to the regulations as well as exposing the violating satellites and frequencies.


#3

I agree with the principles of not allowing scheduling of uncoordinated satellites; however, I would recommend some caution about how uncoordinated transmitters are described or presented. AFAIK, ham radio does not have any exclusive frequency allocations from 70 cm and up, so it can be perfectly legal to transmit on ham radio frequencies without any IARU coordination or even having a ham radio license. We need to differentiate between violating regulations and “just annoying”.


#4

I think it will be a good solution to have the satellite listed anyway, since sometime you see signal on waterfall that is hard to understand where they could come from.

Concerning frequency allocation, the 432-438MHz slice is allocated to Amateur Radio, Radiolocation and Earth Exploration Satellite Active service (i.e. active instruments, like SAR or so), according to ITU regulation RR5-54 (http://search.itu.int/history/HistoryDigitalCollectionDocLibrary/1.43.48.en.101.pdf). I do not think there are other services here (I know that locally, some country may have additional fixed/mobile ground services, but not space).
So, to me, even if it is perfectly legal to transmit without IARU coordination, it is not legal to transmit without a radio amateur license.


#5

I think we need two fields which should extend the transmitter model:
License field
This should hold the type of license with which the transmitter operates. Possible values can be:

  • Amateur
  • ISM
  • Commercial
  • Experimental
  • Unknown

Frequency coordination
This field should hold if and how the frequency for this transmitter is coordinated. Possible values for this field can be:

  • IARU requested
  • IARU coordinated
  • IARU informal
  • ITU
  • None

#6

I think the policy reflects the amateur values of the group.

While other users may be allowed to use the same spectrum it doesn’t mean we as amateurs should provide value to those groups and encourage the usage of the spectrum and amateur resources to subsidize their missions.

“Amateur radio service” means a radio communication service in which radio apparatus is used for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication or technical investigation by individuals who are interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest.

If these other services feel they need the networks and skills amateurs can bring to the table then let them hire those interested and let them build their own network.

I adhere to a similar policy in my monitoring of signals out of the amateur bands. If non-amateur users want data they can pay their fair share.

Regards,
Scott Tilley
VE7TIL


#7

Some amateur freqs are shared with other entities. Some, amateur radio is secondary and must not interfere with other transmitters. These entities are coordinated via IARU or ITU or some governmental use. It is not for anyone that wishes to transmitt on a band or freqs just because amateur radio is secondary or that the freq is above a set point. I fully agree that all sats tracked via Satnogs should be legal and non-interfering and properly licensed.Satnogs should list them as described above so that the rogues can be blocked from the db and made public.


#8

All I wanted to say is that there may very well be legal ways for a satellite to transmit within the hamradio bands without having its frequency coordinated via the IARU frequency coordination. Which by the way is offered as a service and not a law, so I think it is quite legal for someone with hamradio license to send up a hamradio satellite without participating in the IARU frequency coordination.

Of course, national laws may prevent someone from doing that, but I don’t think there is any international law that requires IARU frequency coordination. Anyway, I’m not a lawyer so I might be wrong, but I would avoid using the term “violation”. The list proposed by @Acinonyx sounds good to me.


#9

Apropos…


#10
  1. Unauthorized deployment and operation of satellites risks satellite collisions and radio
    frequency interference, threatening critical commercial and government satellite operations. To settle this
    matter, Swarm Technologies admits that it engaged in these unlawful acts, will implement a five-year
    compliance plan, and will pay a $900,000 civil penalty

satnogs and its parent corporations should have legal council to determine if operating a db that contains data from illegal satellites constitutes a legal collusion with the rogue entities. js


#11

And what about those satellites that have a IARU coordinated frequency but they are transmitting data that are encrypted or the encoding is “a bit obscure” or “not well documented” or even commercial?