HAMNET Report 9 December 2018

In the absence of much EmComm news this week, we look to the skies for interesting snippets of information.

NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft completed its 2 billion-kilometre  journey to arrive at the asteroid Bennu on Monday. The spacecraft executed a manoeuvre that transitioned it from flying towards Bennu to operating around the asteroid.

Now, at about 19 kilometres from Bennu’s Sun-facing surface, OSIRIS-REx will begin a preliminary survey of the asteroid. The spacecraft will commence flyovers of Bennu’s north pole, equatorial region, and south pole, getting as close as nearly 7 kilometres above Bennu during each flyover.

OSIRIS-REx’s mission will help scientists investigate how planets formed and how life began, as well as improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth. Asteroids are remnants of the building blocks that formed the planets and enabled life. Those like Bennu contain natural resources, such as water, organics and metals. Future space exploration and economic development may rely on asteroids for these materials.

The mission’s navigation team will use the preliminary survey of Bennu to practice the delicate task of navigating around the asteroid. The spacecraft will enter orbit around Bennu on Dec. 31 — thus making Bennu, which is only about  500 meters across — or about the length of five football fields — the smallest object ever orbited by a spacecraft. It’s a critical step in OSIRIS-REx’s years-long quest to collect and eventually deliver at least 60 grams of regolith — dirt and rocks — from Bennu to Earth.

OSIRIS-REx mission marks many firsts in space exploration. It will be the first U.S. mission to carry samples from an asteroid back to Earth, and the largest sample returned from space since the Apollo era. It’s the first to study a primitive B-type asteroid, which is an asteroid that’s rich in carbon and organic molecules that make up life on Earth. It is also the first mission to study a potentially hazardous asteroid and try to determine the factors that alter their courses to bring them close to Earth.

When OSIRIS-REx begins to orbit Bennu at the end of this month, it will come close to approximately 1.25 kilometres from its surface. In February 2019, the spacecraft begins efforts to globally map Bennu to determine the best site for sample collection. After the collection site is selected, the spacecraft will briefly touch the surface of Bennu to retrieve a sample. OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to return the sample to Earth in September 2023.

Thank you to the Southgate Amateur Radio Club news report for these extracts. What an amazing accomplishment it will be if the mission is successful!

Here’s more astronomical news for you science boffins.

Discovered on January 17, 1948 by American Astronomer Carl Wirtanen at the Lick Observatory near San Jose in the state of California, Comet 46P/Wirtanen is one of ten comets to have made very close approaches to the Earth in modern history. Only a handful of these ten comets, including 46P/Wirtanen, were bright enough to be seen with naked eyes.

Some astronomers have predicted that 46P/Wirtanen may be visible without any viewing aids in the weeks around December 16, 2018, when it makes its closest approach to the Earth in 70 years. This is just 4 days after the comet reaches its perihelion—the closest point to the Sun on its orbit—on Dec 12, 2018.

In early December, the comet will move through constellations Eridanus and Cetus. It will reach Taurus around December 12 and pass very close to the Pleiades star cluster around December 16.

To find Taurus, and Comet Wirtanen, look high up in the sky after the end of civil twilight in the evening and before it gets light in the morning.

Don’t say you haven’t been notified! Get out your pair of binoculars, lie on your back in the garden in a dark site, and look more or less straight up for Taurus and the Pleiades cluster. Thank you to timeanddate.com for these details.

Here’s another report from the World Health Organisation’s weekly newsletter.

The Global status report on road safety 2018, launched by WHO in December 2018, highlights the fact that the number of annual road traffic deaths has reached 1.35 million. Road traffic injuries are now the leading killers of people aged 5-29 years. The burden is disproportionately borne by pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, in particular those living in developing countries. The report suggests that the price paid for mobility is too high, especially because proven measures exist. These include strategies to address speed and drinking and driving, among other behaviours; safer infrastructure like dedicated lanes for cyclists and motorcyclists; improved vehicle standards such as those that mandate electronic stability control; and enhanced post-crash care. Drastic action is needed to put these measures in place to meet any future global target that might be set and save lives.

Finally, the Western Cape Division of HAMNET South Africa held its end of year function yesterday afternoon at a beautiful high site on the slopes of the mountain above Gordon’s Bay, at the home of Deputy Regional Director, Peter Dekker, ZS1PDE.

Peter had graciously offered his home as a venue and saw to the salads and light refreshments at the bring-and-braai, which took place as the afternoon progressed.

The meeting was attended by most of the regular volunteers, and good fellowship was enjoyed by all.

Our Regional Director, Grant Southey ZS1GS, made a short speech of thanks to all members for their contributions to the field of EmComms in the Western Cape during the year, and presented them with certificates of appreciation.

HAMNET Western Cape bulletins on a Wednesday evening at 19h30 will end for the year after this coming Wednesday the 12th of December, and will resume after the festive season on 9th January 2019.

This is Dave Reece  ZS1DFR  reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.

HAMNET Report 2 December 2018

Greg Mossop says he has received further information on the NATO Exercise Vigorous Warrior in Romania next year from Adrian YO3HJV.

The exercise is co-ordinated by the NATO Centre of Excellence for Military Medicine (NATO MILMED COE) and the general framework of the exercise is the intervention of military forces in a disaster scenario, assisted by civil resources.

The scenarios for Amateur Radio involvement are still being developed, but will exercise communications inside the exercise area and possibly externally.
This is where it is hoped other countries can be included.

One possible scenario could be that there are interruptions in communications between national command centers and their teams participating in the exercise.  We could help by transmitting information via HF to the organizations involved, using WINLINK, PACTOR, or another suitable digimode.

Following some experience from the Malta/EU exercises, there will need to be some preparation before the exercise, so that the radio amateurs who will operating in both the exercise area and the national command centres are accredited in advance, and given any appropriate contact details, so that the messages can get to the destination with some trust.

A list of other European country organizations who have indicated their interest in  taking part, includes

The Dutch Amateur Radio Emergency Service (Secretary Jan Rozema PA7O); the Radio Amateur Association of Greece/Emergency Service (Board member Sotirios Vanikiotis SV1HER); Belgian Emergency Radio Service (Secretary Karel Cornelis ON7TA); EMCOM Spain (Jose Antonio Mendez EA9CD); and Slovenia (Tilen Cestnik S56CT)

Greg G0DUB thanks these countries who have thus far shown interest.

Between 19h29 our time on Friday evening, and 07h30 on Saturday morning, the South coast of Alaska near Anchorage was struck by 9 earthquakes, of magnitude 4.5 or greater, all between 20 and 40km below the ground, and threatening about 400 000 people living within 100 km of the epicentre. The first shock had magnitude 7,  and  ripped across the Anchorage area on Friday at 19h29. Buildings wobbled, roads cracked and thousands lost power during the morning commute.

After peaking above 50,000, the number of customers without power dropped to about 25,000 in Anchorage and neighbouring areas by Friday evening, Anchorage officials said at a news conference. The public radio station fielded multiple calls about the cleanliness of the water supply, with some residents reporting reddish-brown water coming from their taps. Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility reported more than two dozen mainline water breaks and the city advised residents to boil their tap water as a precaution.

The Federal Aviation Administration declared a ground stop at the airport after the earthquake. At 11:30 a.m. Anchorage time, the FAA said it had begun letting flights depart from the airport, but the ground stop was kept in place for arrivals.

The National Weather Service in Anchorage briefly suspended operations on their Friday morning after a tsunami warning was issued. All of the office’s duties were handed over to the Fairbanks office, and the meteorologists and staff evacuated. Operations resumed at the Anchorage office after the warning was cancelled.

Friday’s quake occurred on a fault line between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates, the USGS said. The rupture between the faults occurred in an area where the Pacific plate is moving underneath Alaska. Anchorage was severely damaged in March 1964 by the Great Alaska Earthquake, a 9.2-magnitude quake with its epicentre about 75 miles east of the city. That quake, which lasted for about 4½ minutes, was the most powerful earthquake recorded in U.S. history. It destroyed a major part of downtown Anchorage and caused a tsunami that ravaged towns on the Gulf of Alaska and beyond.

Thank you to the Washington Post for the majority of this report.

Now, doffing my HAMNET hat and donning my MEDICAL one, I wish to tell you that reported measles cases spiked in 2017, as multiple countries experienced severe and protracted outbreaks of the disease, according to the World Health Organization.

Because of gaps in vaccination coverage, measles outbreaks occurred in all regions, while there were an estimated 110 000 deaths related to the disease.

Using updated disease modelling data, the report provides the most comprehensive estimates of measles trends over the last 17 years. It shows that since 2000, over 21 million lives have been saved through measles immunizations. However, reported cases increased by more than 30 percent worldwide from 2016 to 2018.

The Americas, the Eastern Mediterranean Region, and Europe experienced the greatest upsurges in cases in 2017, with the Western Pacific the only World Health Organization (WHO) region where measles incidence fell.

“The resurgence of measles is of serious concern, with extended outbreaks occurring across regions, and particularly in countries that had achieved, or were close to achieving, measles elimination,” said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Deputy Director General for Programmes at WHO. “Without urgent efforts to increase vaccination coverage and identify populations with unacceptable levels of under-, or unimmunized children, we risk losing decades of progress in protecting children and communities against this devastating, but entirely preventable disease.”

Measles is a serious and highly contagious disease. It can cause debilitating or fatal complications, including encephalitis (an infection that leads to swelling of the brain), severe diarrhoea and dehydration, pneumonia, ear infections and permanent visual loss. Babies and young children with malnutrition and weak immune systems are particularly vulnerable to complications and death.

The disease is preventable through two doses of a safe and effective vaccine. For several years, however, global coverage with the first dose of measles vaccine has stalled at 85 percent. This is far short of the 95 percent needed to prevent outbreaks, and leaves many people, in many communities, susceptible to the disease.

“The increase in measles cases is deeply concerning, but not surprising,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “Complacency about the disease and the spread of falsehoods about the vaccine in Europe, a collapsing health system in Venezuela and pockets of fragility and low immunization coverage in Africa are combining to bring about a global resurgence of measles after years of progress. Existing strategies need to change: more effort needs to go into increasing routine immunization coverage and strengthening health systems.”

The agencies also call for actions to build broad-based public support for immunizations, while tackling misinformation and hesitancy around vaccines where these exist.

The misinformation referred to, is a illogical claim that measles vaccines have a chance of causing Autism Spectrum Disorder in children. This is a totally disproved  rumour based on false evidence debunked about 40 years ago.

PLEASE immunise your child against measles. He or she will not get Autism Spectrum Disorder, but he or she may well die of measles if not immunised!

This is Dave Reece  ZS1DFR   reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.