HAMNET Report 23rd August 2020

Jose Mendez EA9E, Emergency communications coordinator for Spain in IARU Region One has announced that they will be carrying out an exercise today the 23rd August, between 12h00 and 14h00 UTC. This will consist of a general call-in and a net control on 7.110 MHz, as well as a Winlink System practice, with two stations located on 7 and on 10 MHz, experimenting with person-to-person communication.

Please be mindful of signals coming out of the Spanish mainland during this time.

RFI is quoted this week as saying that Japan’s government has said it would send a second disaster relief team to Mauritius to help with the oil spill from a Japanese ship that ran aground off the Indian Ocean island last month. A team of seven people are to leave Japan on Wednesday to help with clean-up efforts and assessments for the environmental damage caused by the Wakashio oil spill, the foreign ministry said.

The team will include officials from Japan’s environment ministry and the National Institute for Environmental Studies. Japan’s foreign ministry described how the oil spill has caused critical environmental damage, which could have a “serious impact” on the country’s important tourism industry.

“Japan hopes that this assistance will contribute to the recovery of the environment of the Republic of Mauritius and the prevention of maritime pollutions,” said the foreign ministry.

France has also dispatched aircraft and technical advisors from neighbouring Réunion Island to help with the disaster.

The accident has affected one of the most ecologically sensitive areas of Mauritius, which has declared the spill an environmental emergency. The MV Wakashio bulk carrier split into two pieces last Saturday and there are concerns that the island could take years to recover from the disaster.

French overseas minister Sébastien Lecornu, speaking on FranceInfo radio, said there are concerns about what to do with the shipwreck. Lecornu said the French authorities are focused on an environmental approach that protects biodiversity and the coasts of neighbouring Reunion island, a French department in the Indian Ocean.

The Daily Mail’s MailOnLine reports that scientists are saying that Earth’s sun once had a twin, and evidence of its celestial sibling still exists in our solar system.

Scientists note that stars birth from clouds of dust and gas and typically form with binary companions.

The team suggests passing stars in the birth cluster may have removed the second sun through their gravitational influence – and it could be lurking anywhere in the Milky Way.

Data proposes our star’s doppelganger would be similar in mass and would explain the ‘Oort cloud,’ which is a collection of debris left over from the formation of the solar system that circles our sun at a distance.

Another sun could also give credence to the existence of Planet Nine, a theoretical body hiding in the outer reaches of the solar system.

Astronomers theorize Planet Nine is five to 15 times larger than Earth. But it would be hard to collect enough material so far from the Sun to form a super-Earth-sized planet.

Binary stars are better at drawing in and capturing debris, says Harvard science professor Avi Loeb, co-author of a new report published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

‘If the Oort cloud formed as observed, it would imply that the sun did in fact have a companion of similar mass that was lost before the sun left its birth cluster,’ reads the study.

‘Binary systems are far more efficient at capturing objects than are single stars,’ said Loeb, who says their model predicts more objects with a similar orbital orientation to Planet Nine.

According to co-author Amir Siraj, a Harvard undergraduate, objects in the Oort cloud may have impacted the development of life here on Earth, from bringing water to the planet to causing the dinosaurs to go extinct.

The double-sun theory isn’t as radical as it sounds. ‘Most Sun-like stars are born with binary companions,’ says Siraj. According to him, this solar doppelganger didn’t go nova, it simply moved on. ‘The Sun’s long-lost companion could now be anywhere in the Milky Way,’ he said.

The key to proving their theory lies with the Vera C Rubin Observatory in Chile. Next year, it begins a 10-year survey of the night sky that could confirm or rule out the existence of Planet Nine.

‘If the VRO verifies the existence of Planet Nine, and a captured origin, and also finds a population of similarly captured dwarf planets, then the binary model will be favoured over the lone stellar history that has been long-assumed,’ Siraj said.

Now our friends at Southgate Amateur Radio News have reported via the ARRL Letter on 20th August that a new open-source app called SignalID can identify about 20 signal modes in just 5 seconds of recording time, and more may be on the way. The app is open source and free.

Using it is simple. Once the frequency and bandwidth have been set, the user places the cell phone’s microphone near the receiver’s speaker, presses the large button, and waits for 5 seconds. The quieter the external environment is, the fewer errors.

“The algorithm is based on frequency, so incorrect tuning will result in an erroneous detection. The recording is limited to 5 seconds, for practical reasons. Mode recognition may require several attempts, the developer, Tortillum, said, and upgrades are already in the works. “The easiest way to try it is with RTTY or STANAG,” the developer added.

The very few comments so far from users suggest some further work may be needed, but they praised the concept. The developer invites additional comments.

The application, which includes a complete list, could prove a valuable tool in determining the types of emissions that may stray into amateur radio bands

On Southgate Amateur Radio News, the Times of India reports that amateur radio operators have once again been roped in to fight Covid-19. While previously they helped monitor home-quarantine violations, this time they’ve been tasked with assisting the government in facilitating contact tracing via real-time radio communication.

With the government dividing Bengaluru into 8 zones to handle cases, Bommanahalli appears to have become the focal point for the ham operators, who have set up ward-level control rooms in their homes to coordinate with the zonal team.

Eighty to 100 ham operators are presently helping booth-level volunteers and ward committees carry out door-to-door surveys, assist patients and trace contacts of those testing positive for the virus.

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