HAMNET Report 12th July 2020

Wilderness Search and Rescue, the volunteer rescue organization in the Western Cape, of which HAMNET is a signatory, was involved in a long search and retrieval action between Monday and Wednesday this week.

A runner had set off for a solo run along the contour paths of Table Mountain on Monday afternoon, and did not return that evening. WSAR and HMANET were activated on Tuesday and Wednesday. On the second day, a huge number of other volunteers joined the search, and there were about 500 people, in 61 search groups combing the front of Table Mountain that day. The weather was excellent, and helicopters were also able to fly, and the unfortunate runner was discovered soon after lunch on Wednesday, seemingly having fallen a distance to his death, not far from the track of the cable car, and the India Venster route up the mountain. WSAR and HAMNET extend their deepest condolences to the family of the young man

The Western Cape has been lashed by a strong winter storm this weekend, with many places recording 100mm of rain or more. Low-lying dwellings have been under water, and disaster management has had its hands full helping people who needed alternate shelter. The cold front is of course crossing the rest of the country, bringing snow and rain as I write.

But spare a thought for Japan. At least 50 people on the southwestern island of Kyushu have died after three days of torrential rains, floods and mudslides.

The casualties include 14 residents of a nursing home for the elderly in Kumamoto, the region which has sustained the worst effects of the disaster.  The nursing home was swamped by waters from the nearby Kuma River that overran its embankment, leaving residents who were wheelchair-bound trapped on the ground and unable to reach higher ground.

The disaster has washed out bridges and roads, prompting emergency crews to sail down flooded streets on rafts and inflatable boats to rescue residents trapped in their homes. Some residents were also rescued from the rooftops of their inundated homes by helicopter.

Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters last week that more than 40,000 members of the Self-Defence Force, along with local emergency first responders, were involved in search-and-rescue missions in Kyushu.

More than a million people have been ordered to evacuate the Kyushu region. And all this in amongst the need to wear masks, wash their hands regularly, and maintain a safe physical distance from other evacuees!

Thank you to the Voice of America News for these details.

Our ever-watchful friends, the Southgate Amateur Radio News team, report that the Mid Ulster Amateur Radio Club (MUARC) has made available a series of talks for everyone to view, on YouTube.

The talks are given by a variety of authors, and include:
• QO-100 geostationary satellite,
• DMR: What it is all about,
• Coaxial Cable and Connectors: know what to use and when to use them,                      • What it is like as an Air Traffic Controller,
• Urban QRM. What can I do? A Q&A,
• The RSGB OAS, and
• Amateur Radio and the Raspberry Pi.

Each talk runs for about an hour, and can be accessed by going to YouTube, and typing MUARC MEDIA in to the search bar.

Southgate also says that, following their report “ESA invites proposals for lunar lander mission in late 2020’s”, the German Amateur satellite organisation,     AMSAT-DL has submitted a major and comprehensive proposal to the European Space Agency for their Lunar Lander.

AMSAT-DL propose LUNART – Lunar Amateur Radio Transponder – a comprehensive radio platform using the European frequency standards of 2.4 GHz up and 10 GHz down which were pioneered in the QO-100 satellite project. LUNART would include low power beacons, and while high data rates would be operated from their 20 meter diameter dish at Bochum, lower data rates would be available to more modest amateur systems.

The proposal is on open access at the ESA website and is now being evaluated. It follows G0SFJ’s proposal LARIE – Lunar Amateur Radio Interaction Experiment, which made the initial case for Amateur Radio on ESA’s Lunar Lander. Both refer to weak signal modes and share the same frequency bands. Andy, G0SFJ, welcomes LUNART as a well-developed proposal, and hopes ESA will support it too.

Now from Maria Temming, at Science News, comes a report about newly christened “Dimorphos”, a tiny space rock with a big target on its back.

The International Astronomical Union gave the rock an official name on June 23rd for a unique reason: It has been marked for the first-ever asteroid deflection mission. A NASA spacecraft will ram into Dimorphos — on purpose — to alter its path through space. Although Dimorphos is not at risk of striking Earth, its nearness to our planet makes it a prime testing ground for a technique to ward off dangerous asteroids in the future.

Dimorphos is a moonlet asteroid that orbits a larger asteroid known as Didymos. Its new name, Dimorphos, is Greek for “having two forms,” in honour of the two different trajectories it will have before and after the spacecraft knocks it askew. At just 160 meters across, about the height of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, Dimorphos is one of the smallest objects to earn an official name from the IAU.

NASA will launch the Double Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraft in July 2021 to crash-land on Dimorphos in September 2022, about 11 million kilometres from Earth. The collision should nudge Dimorphos into a tighter orbit around Didymos — a change that’s much easier to measure than knocking a solo asteroid into a slightly different orbit around the sun, says Kleomenis Tsiganis, a planetary scientist at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece, who is working on the DART mission and suggested the name Dimorphos.

Dimorphos currently orbits Didymos once every 12 hours. By hitting it with DART, “you’re actually changing the orbital period enough — by, say, 10 minutes or 20 minutes — which could be observed even from the ground,” Tsiganis says. Telescopes on Earth will track the immediate aftermath of the crash, and the European Space Agency will send its Hera probe to Dimorphos in 2024 to ensure that the moonlet asteroid is following its new intended path.

And, in a newsletter from the Radio Amateur Society of Australia released yesterday, they announce that their e-magazine, called QTC, has been downloaded 2000 times in the last 3 days. This is a free download, and you’re welcome to take a look at vkradioamateurs.org. You will find the link to QTC there.

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