HAMNET Report 23 December 2018

In depressing news of Humanitarian disaster, Aljazeera reports that The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has named the countries most at risk of being hit by humanitarian catastrophe next year, with Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan topping the top 10 list.

As wars, famines and other disasters loom over several countries, 2019 is set to be another arduous year for millions of people around the world.

The next 7 at-risk countries identified by the IRC’s emergency response experts are Afghanistan, Venezuela,  the  Central African Republic, Syria, Nigeria,  Ethiopia and Somalia.

The risks are human (from armed conflicts or economic collapse) as well as natural (from droughts, floods and other climate-related events).

Internal or external displacement is the defining trend in the IRC list. Around 40 million people have been displaced across the world, with the top 10 countries accounting for over half – or nearly 22 million – of those displacements.

The 10 countries also account for at least 13 million refugees, 65 percent of the global total, plus an additional 3 million people who have fled Venezuela.

According to the United Nations, nearly 132 million people in 42 countries around the world will need humanitarian assistance, including protection, in 2019.

Certainly food for thought, and it makes us realise that there are many people around the world far worse off than we are.

Now, from I4U News posted on 16 December, comes news that, on November 11, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe completed its first close approach to the sun. The spacecraft came as close as 15 million miles to the sun’s surface during that phase. This is far closer than any spacecraft has gone before. Now, Parker Solar Probe has returned first science data from this closest-ever solar encounter, which may help resolve decades-old questions about the inner workings of our nearest star.

“Heliophysicists have been waiting more than 60 years for a mission like this to be possible. The solar mysteries we want to solve are waiting in the corona,” said Nicola Fox, director of the Heliophysics Division at NASA. Heliophysics is the study of the Sun and how it affects space near Earth, around other worlds and throughout the solar system.

Launched in August, Parker Solar Probe is humanity’s first ever spacecraft to fly directly toward the sun. The small car-sized spacecraft will make 24 close approaches to the sun during the seven-year mission. With each flyby, it will get closer and closer to the sun, reaching within 3.9 million miles of the sun’s surface at closest approach. While zooming toward the sun, Parker probe will withstand extreme radiation and heat, thanks to its revolutionary heat shield, and allow scientists to explore the sun in a way never possible before.

The probe will study the sun’s outer atmosphere or corona in unprecedented detail. The corona is about 300 times hotter than the Sun’s surface. The atmosphere around the sun is not only unusual but also releases powerful plasma and energetic particles in all directions. The primary objective of the mission is to explore what accelerates these energetic particles as well as solar wind. The constant outpouring from the sun can create hazardous space weather events that impact life on Earth, disrupt radio communications and even interfere with power grids. This is the first time that researchers are studying the corona up close and personal. The resulting data could improve predictions of when major eruptions on the sun occur and how they affect the space environment.

“Parker Solar Probe is providing us with the measurements essential to understanding solar phenomena that have been puzzling us for decades,” said Nour Raouafi, Parker Solar Probe project scientist at the Johns Hopkins University. “To close the link, local sampling of the solar corona and the young solar wind is needed and Parker Solar Probe is doing just that.” End quote.

As this bulletin was being compiled yesterday, news came through of a Magnitude 5.5 Earthquake, which struck at 05h37 UTC in the North-Western regions of Mozambique, not far from the Zimbabwe border. The epicentre was 7.62km below the surface in an area with 930000 people living within 100km of it. The village of Chipinge in Eastern Zimbabwe felt the tremor badly, and vulnerable buildings were toppled by the instability.

Zimbabwe’s Meteorological Services Department said: “Most of the earthquakes that occur in this region are due to natural plate tectonics and this is attributed to the East African Rift System which extends into Mozambique.

“Manicaland in Zimbabwe is a seismically active region, evidenced by the many moderate to large earthquakes occurring each year.”

By the time we went to press last night, no news of casualties had been reported.

And, from the ARRL Letter for 20 December, comes news of a Christmas event.

As he’s done in years past, Brian Justin, WA1ZMS, of Forest, Virginia, will commemorate what may have been the first radio broadcast to include speech and music by experimenter Reginald Fessenden on Christmas Eve 1906. Justin will fire up his vintage-style transmitter operating on 486 kHz under Experimental license WI2XLQ to mark the 112th anniversary of Fessenden’s accomplishment. Justin will begin his transmission on December 24 at 1700 UTC and continue until December 26 at 1659 UTC.

Historic accounts say Fessenden played the violin — or a recording of violin music — and read a brief Bible verse, astounding radio experimenters and shipboard operators who heard the broadcast. For his transmitter in 1906, Fessenden used an ac alternator modulated by placing carbon microphones in series with the antenna feed line.

Justin’s homebuilt station is slightly more modern, based on a 1921 vacuum-tube master oscillator power amplifier (MOPA) design, using a UV-202 tube. The transmitter employs Heising AM modulation, developed by Raymond Heising during World War I.

Send listener reports directly to Brian Justin, WA1ZMS.

HAMNET South Africa wishes all its listeners and readers a Merry Christmas, where appropriate, and a safe, healthy and happy 2019. Oh, and please leave your radios on, monitoring the emergency frequencies in your area, to be available to help the people of this beautiful land if they need your assistance. Thank you!

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