What is LoRa?
LoRa (Long Range) is a low-power radio protocol developed by Semtech based on spread spectrum modulation techniques. It uses license-free radio frequency bands (433MHz, 868MHz, 915MHz, 923MHz). Designed for IOT (Internet of Things) applications, it enables long range (up to 10km) with low power consumption. Data rate ranges from 28Kbps to 0.3Kbps – lower bit rates enabling longer range.) LoRa is a physical layer modulation technique allowing point to point and multi-point communication.
LoRaWAN (long range wide-area network) is an upper layer networking protocol that makes LoRa useful for IOT applications. Devices implementing the protocol can automatically be discovered and connected to the network. Data from the devices is forwarded across the wireless network until it reached an Internet gateway. From there it can be routed to any number of IOT servers such as The Things Network.
LoRa has recently been used in cubesat applications. One of the first was FossaSat-1. It was designed to be used by amateurs using a simple, inexpensive transceiver. Instructions can be found on their website at groundstationdatabase.com There was a discussion on the SatNOGS forum regarding enhanced code for a ground station at https://community.libre.space/t/fossasat-1-receiver-on-heltec-lora-board/5065 Also watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5k0aM-PJzo8
Click link below for a table of cubesats currently using LoRa:
Unfortunately, FossaSat-1 antennas did not deploy properly, so it could only be used by very high-power stations. Its sister cubesat FossaSat-1/B has been delivered to the international space station and is due to be deployed on 16 November 2020.
Ariel University’s SATLLA 1.0 cubesat contains a LoRa transceiver operating on 433MHz. At this time (Oct 2020), it’s unclear if it can be used by amateurs. It is also due to be deployed from the ISS on 16 Nov 2020. Details at: https://www.ariel-asc.com/nes-space
Several other commercial companies are launching constellations of satellites designed to receive LoRaWAN signals from IOT devices and then retransmit the data to their network of ground stations. It is unlikely that these signals could be easily received and decoded by amateurs and hobbyists: Companies include:
Lacona Space – locana.space
Wyld Networks – wyldnetworks.com
Fleet Space Technologies – fleetspace.com
Hiber – Hiber.global
Myriota – Myriota.com