Too easy to schedule observations

I was thinking more of using the satnogs system to monitor the sats and relaying emergency messages to places that have no other communication. The Pi with a thumbdrive is an excellent portablilty system that can operated for days from a vehicle battery. Receiving info in a disaster at times can be a life saver, as the rescue teams can know when and where the nearest shelters/food/water is located, Every bit of info about the circumstances of a disaster is very useful to the hero grunt groups in the field with a boat and paddle. pun intended.

Hello all, I’ve been following this thread and would like to address some issues

I want to make something crystal clear:

The scheduling goal for SatNOGS is 100% utilization of a station’s time.
We simply cannot have enough observations. (and no @K3RLD most are not NOAA, but even if it where we should be fine). The end goal for 100% coverage of any satellite we track requires we go down this road of 100% utilization of stations. This should not be considered an abuse. If anything those “schedulers” should be praised for keeping the network active and observations coming, so we can also debug, check stations and of course track as many satellites as frequently as possible. And as you can see here they are becoming more and more which is great! So yes it should be “extremely easy” to schedule observations by people that have access (active station owners), and we should work on automating the scheduling as much as possible. Check this thread for automation.

We have though to recognize the following situations:

  • Some stations will not be able to cope with 100% utilization (due to bandwidth and/or processing constraints). Thus, we should consider the targeted utilization being an editable (by the station owner) attribute of the station and the auto-scheduler should respect that.
  • Owners should be able to reserve time on their ground station (check this thread for details)
  • Owners should be able to easily override existing observations. They already can delete anything on their stations, but it should be indeed easier for them to just override existing obs.

This is not a contest, but every single observation counts. Blame the UI/UX (we are working on them!) and not the volunteers that keep the network active and are contributing tirelessly everyday (don’t forget the vetting!)

@all: assume best intentions in all cases and communicate when you have an issue or something seems off! A simple comment in your ground station description can go a long way!


Why? As Bob suggested, this is not a contest. Also, this is not a “for profit” business. 100% utilization of a ground station isn’t making or losing any money for anybody. It’s not like an airliner, where “downtime” is lost money. These are volunteer groundstations. As soon as you achieve a goal of 100% station utilization, you then completely eliminate the possibility of “last minute” type observations. For example, the recent non-scheduled ISS voice contacts could have sparked last minute observation requests from people, and if GS’s time is already 100% utilized, we have a wasted opportunity to collect data of tangible value.

What good is collecting hundreds of NOAA images (especially when the observations are vetted automatically - and the likelihood of ANYBODY ever actually looking at them is virtually zero)?

Having said that, I still very much want my stations to be available to EVERYBODY, for passes that are of genuine specific interest to any actual person. I have thus added to the description of the stations that they are free to be used by anybody with specific and targeted observation needs, but are NOT to be used for mass scheduling of observations for the sole purpose of “100% system utilization”. I will consider usage of this type to be abuse of my equipment.

It already appears that traffic has been cut down significantly, so I appreciate all users of the system, and encourage every body to use my stations for any targeted (specific) observation needs.

I also appreciate all the work being put into the code to allow for GS owner controls (scheduling priorities, duty cycle definition, etc.).


Hi Roy

Good point. But there is a cost to running a GS. That is internet usage. Lot of GS are on limited internet plans and give up some/all of their internet usage to satnogs. Thanks to everyone for the changes and hope more decoders will be added soon.

So far I haven’t seen that much data usage and it doesn’t degrade my 3 down 0.7 up internet at all.


I’m watching with attention this very interesting discussion. I think it is very constructive and It has already helped me to understand better some things. So these are some comments on it:
About “The scheduling goal for SatNOGS is 100% utilization of a station’s time”.
The goal of utilizing a station by 100% doesn’t violate the owner’s right to use the time of his station in any way.
The solution we already work on, is that each owner will be able to set priorities of satellites and transmitters for his station.
An automated mechanism will be able to schedule the next observation in a short future period and in the same time will try to satisfy owner’s requirements.
It will also consider the already scheduled observations either if they were scheduled one by one or by massive scheduling.
And of course the owner will be always able to remove scheduled observations.
With the automated mechanism will not be any need for massive scheduling but only in cases of emergency, like new deployed satellites, targeted satellites and other cases like ARISS ones.
Unfortunately this mechanism can not be implemented quickly and soon as it is complicated and there are a lot of load of work for other things.
Also I think that it is good to have some time with manual observation in order to get experience as community on this field.
Today there is massive scheduling or scheduling by station with certain goals:

  • Solving problems related with the load of the network
  • Studying problems with the station related with their location and their strength
  • Studying and trying equipment, like how rotator and rotatorless stations perform.
  • Finding as soon as possible malfunctions or functionality of a Satellite, which is crucial for satellite owners
  • Getting experience in vetting observations (there is plan to automate vetting but always there will be need for manually doing it)
    About the NOAAs
    It looks useless to gather images which not many people seeing them due to automate vetting, however is it like that?
    When vetting will be automated for all the satellite modes, observation will be useless as no one will vetting them, so no one will sees them.
    One more thing is that having some powerful signal help to evaluate the performance of a station.

And something, maybe a little crazy, in the future someone could get all the data of the network and with the big coverage will be able to create a live earth image from space.
By closing I want to emphasize that we don’t have any contest here.
Thank you and I hope soon we will have a global meeting for satnogs in order to discuss and work on our concerns.


Sure, it’s a good thing, for valid observations.

But why do some observers, Motionlab Berlin for example, schedule so many obs then vet most of them as “Failed”. What’s the point? A lot of those birds have failed obs as the majority. All I see is red, red, red :frowning:

What I’d like to know is how is this affecting my “Success Rate” sats?

Maybe there could be a page per “schedule” an observer gets for his schedule plans.

Also just because its automatically vetted does not mean no one will see them. I always check out all my NOAA Obs using the filter settings. I also have looks thru other sats in the full data base,


I believe that with automation observations for dead satellites will be limited to a minimum as they will be low in priority list.
Bad observations count as positive for station’s statistics, only failed observations count as negative.
There are indeed difficulties in vetting an observation as failed or bad, as it’s not clear each time if the satellite doesn’t transmit or the station doesn’t work correctly. But I believe that this can be improved in the future.
Any thoughts on this?


I have already contacted people from @motionlab, and gave them some examples of wrong vetting they did, also linked the wiki page that explains the right vetting.


Hey Roy,

I understand your decision to want your station to be utilized only when there is a need or a specific event and this is why already 100% utilization of your station has been stopped as you requested.

However I want you and the rest of the station owners to consider this:

SatNOGS was created with the goal to offer data to satellite owners and researchers (and not only), with this in mind the ideal SatNOGS would be able to observe satellites 24 hours per day. As we are far from ideal, we need to utilize the network as much as we can and collect as many data as possible.

This is why 100% utilization is not a contest but a way to fulfill SatNOGS mission. Of course having less data/observation will not make or lose money as you said but it will bring less data to those who (will) use them, who (will) try to make conclusions and who (will) rely on them. I want to point also out that “no transmission” data is also data, this is why from time to time there are observations of dead satellites.

And let me be more specific and give some recent examples that getting more data would be valuable:

  1. UPSAT, the satellite is currently in safe mode and from time to time it wakes up and transmits data. So, in an ideal SatNOGS with 24h/day observation, we would be able to get more data in order to analyze better why is going into safe mode. The current situation is that we received it only two times the last year from random observations.

  2. PICSAT, this satellite was working and transmitting for several days but suddenly stopped. A 24h/day observation maybe would have helped to understand why it stopped. Unfortunately the last data SatNOGS and other amateurs got weren’t enough to reach a safe conclusion.

And there are more examples, and more to come as there are estimations for increasing deployment of cubesats and other objects in LEO and other orbits. And given the fact that many of them are built from people that create a satellite for first time, giving them as more data as we can would be very valuable in their work.

Anyway, as I said your request is understandable and respected and SatNOGS community is thankful for any contribution, no matter how small or big it is.


One very important factor to keep in mind is that most, if not all, rotator-based ground stations in the network are not constructed for 100% utilization. Thus, running them 100% of the time may lead to many stations having a very low MTBF. I know many people like fixing their stuff all the time, personally, I prefer not to do it more often than once every 5 years. It would also look bad in the network statistics.

I seriously doubt that we will be able to attract many “big ground stations” if they are told that their station will be used 100% of the time. Therefore, it’s a good idea to let station owners specify a targeted utilization percentage. For now, telling the obs team to take it easy on my GS has worked for me, so I am not complaining :slight_smile:

There is also another downside with the present practice. With ~1000 observations per day it is practically impossible to do any meaningful quality control. And that is, in my opinion, a big problem since SatNOGS is still very much under development.

Technically, we don’t know how much % of the data in the DB is useful. It could be 90%, it could be 10%, or it could be something in between. Consider what effect that can have on new people looking around to see whether they should use SatNOGS for their mission. Will they be looking at the number of observations per day or the percentage of useful observations in the last 10-20 observations? Probably the latter, since space flight has always been about quality and not so much about quantity.


That’s right. :wink:

This could be indeed a user editable attribute of the station, that would help with stations that are having issues, especially when automatic scheduling comes live.

Yet this is what we do now (@BOCTOK-1 and others are working round the clock to make sure we are as sanitized as possible) . The only fair comment here is that the current method does not scale. but there are ideas on how to scale around that too: 1. we could crowd-source the vetting and/or 2. we could partially or fully rely on ML algos to vet. (and yes we do have the scale to do that now).

You mean Network maybe? Cause in DB we are pretty sure that they are useful (given that people export them, analyze them, and now we can dashboards around them). Keep in mind that besides CW, almost all other modulations and encodings do include some sort of CRC so we can be on the safe side that this is valuable data.

Oh they do. And they reach out :wink: And they work with us to create dashboards and integrate with SatNOGS. I hardly believe that anyone is having “quality issues” with Network as it is. (especially given the alternatives). Could we be better? Sure! That’s why we are investing more on our development and outreach. Should we stop and go for handpicked quality? Absolutely not!(imho)

I say, bring in the scale, and while we do that, let’s be clever on how we qualify and validate our operations and data.


My understanding of “100% utilization” target is that when a ground station is available to SatNOGS, it should be utilized fully and not sitting idle waiting for someone to schedule something.

The fact that there is no way for the owner to define such station availability to SatNOGS, nor a way to easily override already scheduled observations is purely a limitation of current design and implementation and not a SatNOGS network policy. These limitation have been identified long time ago and there have been some discussion on how they should be fixed properly. One thing is certain: that any long-term solution to such problems can only go through an increase of automation level.

Until then, we can only rely on manual communication between community members for advertising ground station availability, status or intended use.


That’s a very good idea.
Something like 3 different settings:

  1. utilize 100%
  2. only targeted observations (ISS contacts, new sats, troubleshooting)
  3. only emergencies / no 3rd party scheduling desired

I’d use the 1st setting for my station, it’s a purpose built setup, I’m not using a rotator, everything is solid-state and my network connection is fast and unmetered.
So no problem to use it to it’s full potential.

And also maybe an option to have you station be disabled between X and Y time (example when you are free on weekends and want to use the radio)

Yes, I meant the database in the network :wink:

I was indeed thinking about verification and validation when I wrote “quality control”. Are we doing the right thing and are we doing things right? To me, it seems to be easier to do such things on a small scale.


I just wanted to apologize for this and I am very very sorry for causing trouble. The reason why I scheduled to many observations was to help the system to have more recordings and spend some time to manually vote them in order to bring more data into the database. I am incredible sorry to cause trouble, my misunderstanding was that I thought by voting them failed it would save resources because the data is not stored or processed. I am very very sorry for causing trouble. Please see Motionlab Berlin vetting as failed instead of bad

Sorry again

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