The aim of this work was to demonstrate that an autonomous and reliably work- ing satellite ground station in urban area can be designed, built, and operated at costs affordable for Universities. This was shown by participating in a Canadian based project called MOST (Microvariability and Oscillations of STars). MOST is a microsatellite space telescope mission to analyze the inner structure of stars by asteroseismological methods, to find Exoplanets, and to set a lower limit for the age of the Universe. The microsatellite carries a Rumak-Maksutov telescope with an aperture of 15 cm. The size of the satellite is 65 cmx 65 cmx 30 cm and the mass is about 65 kg. The Austrian part of this project was funded by ASA (Austrian Space Agency).
For ease of maintenance the ground station is located at the Institute for Astronomy of the University of Vienna. Therefore interference from sources in the urban environment had to be considered. In course of this work it was shown that interference from intermodulation products originating from mobile radio are present but do not hinder or influence the communication with the satellite. Also it was shown that there is man made noise interference at low elevation angles. Man made noise corrupts communication with the satellite at very low elevation angles only. The ground station built operates in an unmanned autonomous mode as default. However, remote access via Internet has been provided for operating convenience.
Since September 2003 the ground station is working. Up to now there were about 3000 passes of the satellite over Vienna. From all satellite passes with an elevation angle above 4 successful communication was established with a reliability of 98%. Since January 2004 the station is working in unmanned autonomous mode.