Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty

Jason Davis headshot v.3

LightSail 2 will transmit Morse code from space, and you can make the sound your ringtone

Posted by Jason Davis

10-06-2016 6:30 CDT

Topics: LightSail

During last year's LightSail 1 mission, dozens of radio enthusiasts around the wrote in to tell us they heard our solar sailing CubeSat chattering away in low-Earth orbit.

Every few seconds, LightSail automatically transmits a beacon packet. These packets can be picked up by ground stations and decoded into 238 lines of text telemetry that describe the spacecraft's health and status. Everything from battery current to solar sail deployment motor state is included. We still plan to better support the worldwide radio community's efforts to help us capture those packets; that work is temporarily on the back burner while the engineering team focuses on getting the spacecraft ready for delivery.

Many off-the-shelf CubeSat software packages also have an option to transmit Morse code beacons, and for the LightSail 2 mission, we're activating this feature. Every 45 seconds, the spacecraft will transmit "L-S-2," and radio operators tuned in to the spacecraft's 437.325 megahertz frequency should be able to hear it.

In Morse code, L-S-2 looks like this:

.-.. / ... / ..---

If you capture the beacon using software-defined radio, it looks like this:

LightSail 2 Morse code beacon (.-.. / ... / ..---)

Justin Foley / The Planetary Society

LightSail 2 Morse code beacon (.-.. / ... / ..---)

The Morse code beacon was active during LightSail's recent day-in-the-life test at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Justin Foley, our Cal Poly LightSail team lead, recorded the beacon during the test:

Justin also reminded us that a CubeSat Morse code beacon makes for a great phone ringtone, if you're so inclined. If you want to follow his lead (and you should!), the raw audio files are here:

LightSail 2 Morse code beacon, WAV format

LightSail 2 Morse code beacon, M4R format

For Android phones, you can drag the WAV file into your device's ringtones folder, or download a ringtone app. If you have an iPhone, you should be able to transfer the M4R file using iTunes.

Personally, I'm pretty happy with the result. 

See other posts from June 2016


Or read more blog entries about: LightSail


sepiae: 06/10/2016 09:18 CDT

Excellent! And yes, just how we Europeans imagine work in California... :D

Eric: 06/10/2016 01:02 CDT

Well then, Europeans have a pretty good idea of what it's like to work here. :)

Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search

Planetary Defense

An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent. Working together to fund our Shoemaker NEO Grants for astronomers, we can help save the world.


Featured Images

LightSail 2 and Prox-1
Bill Nye at LightSail 2 pre-ship review
LightSail 2 pre-ship review team photo
Swirling maelstrom
More Images

Featured Video

Class 9: Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune

Watch Now

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Join The Planetary Society

Let’s explore the cosmos together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!