HAMNET Report 22nd August 2021

The 7.2 magnitude earthquake on the island of Haiti last week resulted in at least 1400 fatalities, about 7000 injuries, and 83000 houses damaged or destroyed. Assistance from various parts of the world is only starting to arrive now.

In the meantime, Tropical Cyclone Grace sweeping past nearby is complicating rescue efforts and the situation of those that have been displaced. Grace is moving more or less due west across the Bay of Mexico aimed directly at Mexico, with maximum wind speeds of 140 km/h, possibly affecting 3.7 million people in that region.

Tropical cyclone Henri is moving North East away from the east coast of North America, and last week’s Linda has drifted off from the West coast of Mexico in the general direction of Japan, neither causing much distress. Tropical Cyclone Fred has dissipated near the Florida panhandle.

The Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre, in conjunction with the South African Weather Service, is holding a training session on 1st September for Search and Rescue operators.

SA Weather Service has a function available on their Aviation website ( aviation.weathersa.co.za ) in which flight plan routings can be input and a weather summary generated. During an aeronautical SAR operation, where required, the ARCC will send out a generated report in PDF format to the On Scene Commander/Rescue Officer/Station Commander of the weather forecast. This is in an abbreviated format containing a lot of useful information. Ms Lauren Smith, Forecaster at the Cape Town Weather officer, SAWS, has kindly availed herself for an information session and will be going through a weather report to explain the information contained within.

The session will take place on the 1 September 2021 at 19h00 on Microsoft Teams. The Link has been shared with contacts in each SAR organisation.

Hamnet members have been encouraged in each division to register for the session, whereafter the virtual meeting details will be emailed to you. Please make contact with your Regional HAMNET Director if you haven’t done so already.

Sometimes amateur radio can help in most devious ways. Sometimes a call to the wrong number can end up going to the right people.

Bill Scott, a resident of California’s San Joaquin County, helped save his best friend’s life earlier this summer thanks to his trusty ham radio, CBS station KOVR reported.

Back in June, Bill — who has been an amateur radio operator for four decades — received an unusual call.

“I thought it was a prank call at first,” he told the outlet.

Eventually, Bill figured out that his friend Skip Kritcher, who lived 500 miles away in Oregon, had mistakenly dialled his number — and was in need of help. Bill’s wife, a retired nurse, was the one to realize Kritcher was having a stroke.

“The speech that he had was slurred and my husband couldn’t seem to keep him on task, he was skipping all over and confused,” Sharon told the CBS affiliate in Sacramento.

After realizing what was going on, Bill and his wife called 911. They were able to get Kritcher the help he needed. Afterwards, one family member told the couple that they saved the Oregon man’s life.

“She said that the EMT told her that he would’ve died within a couple of hours,” said Sharon. These days, Kritcher is on the mend — and is still in touch with his life-saving friend.

“Just a miracle that he called the wrong number and got us,” Sharon told KOVR, “and we were able to do something to help him.”

Thanks to uk.sports.yahoo.com for this report.

Now Imperial College London reports that the European Space Agency RadCube mission has launched with the aim of testing new technologies for monitoring potentially devastating space weather.

The RadCube mission is potentially the first step in a new era of monitoring space weather – the variations in the solar wind coming from the Sun, which can disrupt and damage satellites and infrastructure on Earth. On board is a miniature magnetometer instrument made at Imperial.

“We can’t wait to get our first data back on what we hope will be a step-change in our ability to monitor space weather”, said Dr Jonathan Eastwood

RadCube is a ‘CubeSat’ mission – designed to use smaller, cheaper and lower-power components than traditional space missions. CubeSat spacecraft are typically constructed upon multiples of 10 × 10 × 10 cm cubes, and RadCube is made up of three of these base units.

Space weather is a significant threat to infrastructure resilience, as it can affect power grids, navigation, and radio communications. Space weather is listed on the UK National Risk Register, and is increasingly recognised as a major issue, given the increasing role of advanced technologies in all aspects of everyday life.

The technologies in RadCube, if proven to work well in space, could be used in a range of future missions, such as constellations of multiple small satellites working together to measure the solar wind. A constellation of space weather satellites in near-Earth space would be invaluable for monitoring and forecasting space weather events, such as coronal mass ejections, solar flares, and geomagnetic storms.

Members of Imperial’s Department of Physics created a mini magnetometer instrument for RadCube called MAGIC – (MAGnetometer from Imperial College). MAGIC will measure disturbances in the Earth’s magnetic field caused by geomagnetic storms.

The individual detectors on MAGIC are less than a millimetre in size, and the total instrument sensor is only eight centimetres cubed, weighing in at just 23 grams. This is in comparison to the sophisticated magnetometers the lab builds for large and expensive space missions, such as the recent  Solar Orbiter mission and the upcoming JUICE mission, which are much larger and weigh several kilograms.

The MAGIC instrument also uses less than a watt of power, compared to up to 20 watts for the larger instruments. While MAGIC is not as sensitive as these larger instruments, as it is much cheaper to build and uses far less power, the technology could be carried on several spacecraft working in tandem. In this way, the lower-quality data is compensated for, by a much larger volume of data.

And so we come closer to understanding and predicting space weather.

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