HAMNET Report 7th February 2021

Southgate Amateur Radio News reports that, for the first time ever, a telecommunications satellite has used an iodine propellant to change its orbit around Earth.

The small but potentially disruptive innovation could help to clear the skies of space junk, by enabling tiny satellites to self-destruct cheaply and easily at the end of their missions, by steering themselves into the atmosphere where they would burn up. The technology could also be used to boost the mission lifetime of small CubeSats that monitor agricultural crops on Earth, or entire mega-constellations of nanosats that provide global internet access, by raising their orbits when they begin to drift towards the planet.

The technology was developed by ThrustMe, a spin-off company from the �cole Polytechnique and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), and supported by ESA through its programme of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES). It uses a novel propellant – iodine – in an electric thruster that controls the satellite’s height above Earth. Iodine is less expensive and uses simpler technologies than traditional propellants. Unlike many traditional propellants, iodine is non-toxic and it is solid at room temperature and pressure. This makes it easier and cheaper to handle on Earth. When heated, it turns to gas without going through a liquid phase, which makes it ideal for a simple propulsion system. It is also denser than traditional propellants, so it occupies smaller volumes on board the satellite.

ThrustMe launched its iodine thruster on a commercial research nanosat called SpaceTy Beihangkongshi-1 that went into space in November 2020. It was test fired earlier this month before being used to change the orbit of the satellite.

Dawn O’Shea, writing in Medscape’s Univadis publication, says that listening to music can significantly reduce anxiety and pain after major heart surgery, found by a pooled data analysis of the available evidence, published in the online journal Open Heart.

To see if music might help patients undergoing major heart surgery and reduce their length of hospital stay and need for drugs and mechanical ventilation, etc., researchers searched five electronic databases for relevant clinical trials published up to October 2019. They reviewed 20 studies, involving 1,169 patients, and pooled data from 16 involving 987 patients.

The first postoperative music session was associated with the equivalent reduction of 4 points on the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory and 1.05 points on the Visual Analogue Scale/Numeric Rating Scale for anxiety, along with a 1.26 points reduction on the Visual Analogue Scale/Numeric Rating Scale for pain.

Several days of listening to music also reduced anxiety for up to eight days after surgery.

Listening to music was not associated with significant effects on opioids use, length of hospital stay, time spent on mechanical ventilation, blood pressure, heart rate, or breathing rate.

As music has neither risks nor known side effects, unlike drugs, but may influence health outcomes, clinicians should consider it for patients scheduled for major heart surgery, suggest the researchers.

And the Star Advertiser mentions a report from Japan News that says Japan’s government will use communications among smart­-phones as well as a satellite to quickly assess damage from natural disasters and implement rescue operations in areas where telecommunications have been disrupted.

The system, currently being tested in 24 municipalities, would be implemented when cell-phone base stations and other telecommunication infrastructure have been damaged. It uses Bluetooth technology to collect information from private phones via smartphone-to-smartphone communication [a kind of mesh-networking].

The system uses an app that allows residents to enter data on injuries and situations, and will help to speed up evacuation after a disaster. Data is relayed to nearby smartphones, which continue the chain of relaying the information to other phones.

When a resident with data loaded in a smartphone approaches an evacuation centre, the information is sent to the Michibiki 3 satellite, which is connected to military, police and other related organizations. Data can also be shared with family members outside a disaster area.

The technology, developed by Tohoku University, is expected to launch in a few years.

RMS Titanic, Inc., (RMST) the company that owns salvage rights to the Titanic shipwreck, has put off its plans to retrieve the vessel’s radio equipment for exhibit indefinitely. The company cited the coronavirus pandemic for the delay, according to a January 29 court filing. The Atlanta-based company said its plans have faced “increasing difficulty associated with international travel and logistics, and the associated health risks to the expedition team.” RMST’s primary source of revenue comes from its exhibits of its vast collection of Titanic relics, which have been closed or seen only limited attendance due to virus-related restrictions.

RMST — a subsidiary of Premier Exhibitions and the “salvor-in-possession” of the Titanic wreck site — said its planned expedition to recover the ship’s wireless station equipment remains a top priority, however, and will “take place as soon as reasonably practicable.” The Marconi-equipped station transmitted the distress calls after the Titanic (on its maiden voyage) struck an iceberg some 370 miles off the coast of Newfoundland in 1912 and began sinking. The transmissions, heard by some nearby vessels, have been credited with helping rescue some 700 passengers in lifeboats deployed from the Titanic, but about 1,500 passengers were lost.

RMST has been in an ongoing legal battle with the US government over whether the recovery operation would be legal. In May 2020, a US federal judge in Virginia gave permission to retrieve the wireless gear, ruling that the company would be permitted “minimally to cut into the wreck” to access the radio room.

RMST has said the radio room may be reachable via an already-open skylight. But, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has contended that the retrieval expedition is still prohibited under US law and under an international agreement between the US and the UK.

The wreck, some 2 1/2 miles beneath the surface, remained undiscovered until 1985.

Thank you to this week’s ARRL Letter for this latter report.

Finally, a reminder that the Mars Perseverance Rover will hopefully land safely on Mars on Thursday the 18th February, at about 09h00 our time. It is aiming for the Jezero Crater, which once contained a lake, and which provides the investigators with an ideal place to find evidence of ancient microbial life there.

NASA TV will start its broadcast on that day at about 7am, our time, and the easiest way to view it is via the NASA YouTube channel. Don’t forget, see!

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