Can You Help NASA Find Its Missing Nanosatellite?

An Artist's Rendering of NanoSail-D
NASA

Space is a big place, and NASA has lost a tiny satellite somewhere up there. Now the space agency is seeking the help of ham radio operators to find their troubled NanoSail-D, a nanosatellite that according to reports has finally ejected from NASA's Fast Affordable Science and Technology Satellite more than a month after it was supposed to.

NanoSail-D was supposed to be a technology test-bed for NASA. Not only was it supposed to be the first launch of a nanosatellite from a larger autonomous microsatellite in orbit, but NanoSail-D was also supposed to deploy a small solar sail boom system that would demonstrate that technology's capabilities.

But NASA never heard from NanoSail-D after that initial launch--it turned out later that the nanosatellite hadn't launched from FASTSAT at all. Now NASA has confirmed that Nanosail-D has finally, if somewhat spontaneously, separated itself from its mothership and is free-flying in space. But mission handlers still have yet to hear the beacon signal coming from NanoSail-D confirming that it is functioning properly. If it is trying to phone home, it would be doing so at a frequency of 437.270 MHz. If you've got a ham radio and feel like searching for a needle in a sky-sized haystack, NASA could use your help.