HAMNET Report 30th October 2022

Without much fanfare, or headline news, the Federal Government of Nigeria said on Wednesday that the number of deaths recorded as a result of the devastating flood ravaging the country has risen to 612.

The government also said over 80 billion Naira of damage to infrastructure in 154 places has so far been identified as affected by the flooding.

This is as the government has said that there is no technology to dictate natural disaster and even blamed the people in the areas for not heeding the early warnings of the impending disaster in February this year.

Already, the government said that relief materials have been delivered to 22 states, while the Nigerian Air Force would help to airlift the relief materials to Rivers and Bayelsa states where means of transportation to deliver the materials have been a problem.

Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouq said 3,219,780 persons were affected and 1,427,370 persons displaced.

She said further that the impact analysis summary of the flood disaster as at 21st October, showed that 2,776 persons were injured, 181,600 houses partially damaged, 123,807 houses completely damaged as well as 392,399 farmlands totally destroyed, adding that all these sadly took place, “despite early warnings and actions coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.”

She said that the search and rescue efforts covered 25 states, 199 local government areas and 1020 communities.

Thank you to the Vanguard website for this report.

Michael ZS1MJT of HAMNET Western Cape has sent a report after last Saturday night’s annual Voortrekker Night March. He writes:

“HAMNET WC was asked to assist with tracking the teams of Voortrekkers as they took part in their annual night march, on 22nd October.

“HAMNET members met at a farm close to Riebeek Kasteel, at the headquarters of the Voortrekkers late on Saturday afternoon and we discussed best options for successfully tracking the teams as they marched around the HQ, which was situated on top of a small hill. To get best coverage, we set up an APRS digipeater to cover blind spots that were out of line of sight.

“At 18h30 and after a delicious hamburger and potato salad (supplied by the Voortrekkers) two of our team members set out to their allotted positions, to help relay progress of teams from the junior night march participants.

“As night fell, both senior and junior teams started their trek around the farmlands. Teams departed at 15-minute intervals.

“Both sets of teams had to report at 9 check points, ensuring that the teams were on the right track. At each checkpoint, they were given tasks to complete and were scored accordingly.

“At HQ, our main station was manned by Torsten Babl, ZS1ABT who was monitoring the APRS trackers on a laptop using SARTrack. The route had been imported in to SARTrack, which made it easy to see if the teams were going off course.

“The trackers worked well, and each team was easily tracked. The evening drew into morning, and we eventually packed away our equipment at 04h30 on Sunday morning.

“It was a very long day and night, but most enjoyable. All who assisted have already volunteered for next year.

“Thank you to ZS1BR, ZS1JFK, ZS1JM, ZS1REY, ZS1TAF, ZR1SWB and ZS1ABT for offering their time to help the Voortrekkers and promote HAMNET.”

And of course thank you to Michael, for organizing the whole affair.

HAMNET Western Cape members will again be involved in the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station National Nuclear Regulatory Exercise, taking place this coming Friday the 4th of November. It will be another virtual exercise, with some participating teams at the Disaster Risk Management Centre in Goodwood, and others on Skype.

I’ll convey important developments, if there are any, in next week’s report.

It’s known that water ice exists below the lunar regolith (broken rock and dust), but scientists don’t yet understand whether surface ice frost covers the floors inside these cold craters. To find out, NASA is sending Lunar Flashlight, a small satellite (or SmallSat) no larger than a briefcase. Swooping low over the lunar South Pole, it will use lasers to shed light on these dark craters—much like a prospector looking for hidden treasure by shining a flashlight into a cave. The mission will launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in mid-November.

“This launch will put the satellite on a trajectory that will take about three months to reach its science orbit,” said John Baker, the mission’s project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “Then Lunar Flashlight will try to find water ice on the surface of the Moon in places that nobody else has been able to look.”

After launch, mission navigators will guide the spacecraft way past the Moon. It will then be slowly pulled back by gravity from Earth and the Sun before it settles into a wide, looping, science-gathering orbit. This near-rectilinear halo orbit will take it 70,000 kilometres from the Moon at its most distant point and, at its closest approach, the satellite will graze the surface of the Moon, coming within 15 kilometres of the lunar South Pole.

SmallSats carry a limited amount of propellant, so fuel-intensive orbits aren’t possible. A near-rectilinear halo orbit requires far less fuel than traditional orbits, and Lunar Flashlight will be only the second NASA mission to use this type of trajectory. The first is NASA’s Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) mission, which will arrive at its orbit on Nov. 13th, making its closest pass over the Moon’s North Pole.

“The reason for this orbit is to be able to come in close enough that Lunar Flashlight can shine its lasers and get a good return from the surface, but also to have a stable orbit that consumes little fuel,” said Barbara Cohen, Lunar Flashlight principal investigator at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Lunar Flashlight will also be the first mission to use a four-laser reflectometer to look for water ice on the Moon. The reflectometer works by using near-infrared wavelengths that are readily absorbed by water to identify ice on the surface. Should the lasers hit bare rock, their light will reflect back to the spacecraft, signalling a lack of ice. But if the light is absorbed, it would mean these dark pockets do indeed contain ice. The greater the absorption, the more ice may be at the surface.

Let’s hope the mission is successful.

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

HAMNET Report 23rd October 2022

Michael ZS1MJT, our Western Cape HAMNET Regional Director, sent me a report about the Stellenbosch airshow held last Saturday. He says:

“On Saturday 15 October the Civil Aviation Authority held an international disaster reduction awareness campaign and HAMNET was asked to set up a display as part of the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC) section. The idea was to create awareness of all the different organizations involved when incidents happen. Other units there were SAPS diving unit, K9, SARZA, EMS, Stellenbosch Fire and Rescue, Accident and Incident Investigations Division, Air Traffic and Navigation Services.

“HAMNET WC set up a field station, banners and our gazebo. The idea was to try to make contact with some of the YOTA and CQ Hou Koers participants, activating on the same day, and, in this way, also educating visitors to the show as to how and where we can communicate. We also had SARTrack and APRS running on a laptop so we could explain how it works and everything we can do when we are called upon.

“The HAMNET stand was set up by 08h00 and we awaited the start of the show. Weather was a bit on the overcast side and later in the day, it rained. Fortunately, we had put up our gazebo, so we remained dry.

“HAMNET members that joined were:  ZS1SJ, ZS1MJT, ZS1ZV, ZS1BR, ZS1WW, ZS1ISS and ZS1RBT. We were also joined by a visitor to our region, Gert ZS2GS.

“During the course of the day, interesting talks were presented and there were some ‘flight’ challenges posed for the participating light aircraft pilots, testing their navigation and landing skills.

“This was a great opportunity to network with like-minded people, and mingle with the public. The show ended at around 17h00.”

Michael thanked all who participated. And thank you, Michael, for the report.

Grant ZS6GS, our HAMNET National Director has reported that Greg G0DUB has announced that the next QO-100 geostationary satellite comms exercise in IARU Region 1will take place on 29th October – that is, this coming Saturday. Details are at https://www.iaru-r1.org/about-us/committees-and-working-groups/emcomm/exercises-tests-and-meetings/qo-100-emergency-comms-exercise-oct-2022/
Greg has asked operators to feed station call signs through to him before the event as he is generating messages for each station. Thanks, Grant.

James, ZS1RBT, an active HAMNET member in the Western Cape has created his own QO-100 station, and has offered to set up his gear in a place convenient to our local members for Saturday’s exercise if there is enough interest.

The idea would be that HAMNET members here participate in the upcoming QO-100 exercise on 29 October, with the aid of ZS1RBT, and at the same time get an understanding of how the system operates for when we do get our own one up and running.

This is an excellent idea, and thank you to James for offering. All Western Cape operators interested in seeing how it all works are asked to make contact with Michael ZS1MJT so he can gauge whether the idea has merit.

Now here’s some advice for those of you planning on a Summit On The Air adventure or other type of DXpedition. Don’t do it alone! Go in a group. And here is why.

James Riordin, writing in Sciencenews.org says that even sperm cells gotta stick together! He says that bull sperm swim more effectively when in clusters, a new study shows, potentially offering insight into fertility in humans. In simulated reproductive tracts of animals like cattle and humans, the behaviour increases the chances that groups of cooperative bovine sperm will outpace meandering loners as they race to fertilize a female egg cell, physicist Chih-kuan Tung and colleagues reported on  September 22nd  in Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology.

The benefits of clustering don’t come down to flat-out speed. “They are not faster,” says Tung, of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro. “In terms of speed, they are comparable or slower” than sperm traveling alone. Like the sperm equivalent of herds of tortoises racing individual hares, the winners are not necessarily the swiftest but rather the ones that can stay on target.

On their own, sperm tend to follow a curved path, which is a problem, because the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. But when sperm gather in groups of two or more, they swim along straighter routes.

Whether alone, or in groups, sperm naturally tend to swim upstream. However, clusters of sperm in the experiment did a better job heading upstream into the mucus flow, while individual sperm were more likely to head off in other directions.

So combined singlemindedness of purpose will get you to your high site activation sooner than if you’re wandering around on your own. Biology doesn’t behave inefficiently!

And you heard it here on the HAMNET Report, first!

On 9th October, a beam of light more energetic than astronomers had ever seen, zipped past our planet, temporarily blinding detectors on several NASA satellites. The beam came from a Gamma-Ray Burst (GRB), the most energetic type of explosion known to occur in the universe (apart from the Big Bang), and which is believed to accompany the birth of some black holes.

Within hours, dozens of telescopes all over the world were pointing in the direction of the burst’s source, confirming that this, indeed, was one for the books. The event, officially named GRB221009A, has since earned the nickname BOAT (“brightest of all time”), and astronomers hope it will help shed light on the mind-boggling physics behind these cataclysmic phenomena.

“It’s a once in a century event, maybe once in 1,000 years,” Brendan O’Connor, an astronomer at the University of Maryland and George Washington University, told Space.com. “We’re just really in awe of this event and feeling very lucky to be able to study it.”

The gamma-ray burst of October 9 stood out even among the long-firing gamma-ray bursts previously observed, its photons bombarding satellite detectors for about 10 minutes. The energy those photons packed was higher than any that had been measured before. At 18 tera-electronvolts, some of the GRB221009A photons outperformed by at least a factor of two the most energetic particles produced by Earth’s most powerful particle generator, the Large Hadron Collider.

The burst’s afterglow, caused by the interaction of gamma-rays with cosmic dust, was out of the ordinary as well, outshining any other seen before despite the fact that GRB221009A emanated from a part of the sky obstructed by the thick band of the Milky Way galaxy. The burst was so powerful that it ionized Earth’s atmosphere and disrupted long wave radio communications.

Definitely a “Wow” signal for the astronomers!

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

HAMNET Report 16th October 2022

After the passage of Hurricane JULIA over Central America on 9-10 October, at least 24 people died, as reported by national authorities in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

In Guatemala, four are still missing and 11 others sustained injuries due to floods and landslides. About 1,165 people were displaced to evacuation centres and up to 457,300 individuals were affected. In El Salvador, 10 people died, while evacuation operations for the local population continued due to the overflow of several rivers. Floods and overflowing rivers have been affecting Honduras as well, where at least four people died and one is missing, while a number of residents have been evacuated to shelters.

Two individuals were injured and about 5,000 others were affected in San Andrés and Providencia Archipelago (Colombia), while in Nicaragua, where JULIA made landfall as a Category 1 storm in the early morning of 9th October, a number of people were affected by heavy rainfall and strong winds.

HAMNET Western Cape has been asked to assist the Voortrekkers here, on the night of the 22nd of October, when they do a night march. The idea is that they will have teams departing from a set point once it is dark and then every 15 minutes thereafter. The location of the start is between Malmesbury, Wellington and Riebeek Kasteel. They will require about 10 radio operators. The event could end any time between 23h00 and 02h00 or later the next morning, depending on the navigational skills of the teams. Each of the teams will be issued with one of our APRS trackers, and HAMNET will set up an APRS receiver and computer, to be able to track them all. There will be place to set up camp at their HQ, but more details are still awaited. Michael, ZS1MJT, our Regional Director hopes fellow HAMNET members will quickly volunteer to assist. The 22nd is a Saturday night, and radio operators don’t go out socializing on Saturday nights, so there should be a huge number of volunteers available!

Wonderful news from NASA, folks! The Astronomy Community has announced that the DART satellite that pranged into Dimorphos about 3 weeks ago shortened the little moon’s orbit around its parent asteroid Didymos by 32 minutes. 73 seconds difference would have satisfied the scientists, who worked out that that was all that was needed for proof of concept. Now the moon is in a lower orbit around Didymos than before, and takes 11 hours and 23 minutes to orbit its parent.

Now the real mathematics starts. The clever scientists have to work out how much momentum, either positive or negative was transferred to the moon, and therefore how much per unit mass of a future asteroid will be necessary to shift that one, if it is discovered to be on an earth-threatening path. The calculations will get easier and easier, apparently, with time and with future observations.

What is complicating the math, is the fact that the impact caused a huge plume of debris and dust to explode off Dimorphos’ surface, which is now trailing behind the moon like a comet’s tail. The explosion of this tail has an equal and opposite effect on the moon, adding to the momentum imparted on it by the satellite. It will be difficult to predict the composition of future threatening asteroids, and therefore how much ejecta, as it is called, will be thrown up, and therefore whether that will add or subtract from the effect of a future collision on a future asteroid.

Phew! The mind boggles at the complexity of it all. But at least the experiment worked!

Here’s something you make you pause for thought. Phy.org says that 5.3 billion cell phones will become waste in the year 2022. Apparently there are a staggering 16 billion cell phones possessed worldwide at present, meaning, on average, each person that breathes, has just over two cell phones in his or her possession!

More than five billion phones will likely be discarded or stashed away in 2022, experts said on Thursday, calling for more recycling of the often hazardous materials they contain.

Stacked flat on top of each other, that many disused phones would rise 50,000 kilometres into space, more than a hundred times higher than the orbit of the International Space Station, the WEEE research consortium found.

Despite containing valuable gold, copper, silver, palladium and other recyclable components, almost all these unwanted devices will be hoarded, dumped or incinerated, causing significant health and environmental harm.

“Smartphones are one of the electronic products of highest concern for us,” said Pascal Leroy, Director General of the WEEE Forum, a not-for-profit association representing forty-six producer responsibility organizations.

“If we don’t recycle the rare materials they contain, we’ll have to mine more of them in countries like China or Congo,” Leroy told AFP.

Many of the five billion phones withdrawn from circulation will be hoarded rather than dumped in the trash, according to a survey in six European countries from June to September 2022.

This happens when households and businesses forget cell phones in drawers, closets, cupboards or garages rather than bringing them in for repair or recycling. Up to five kilograms of e-devices per person are currently hoarded in the average European family, the report found.

According to the new findings, 46 percent of the 8,775 households surveyed considered potential future use as the main reason for hoarding small electrical and electronic equipment.

Another 15 percent stockpile their gadgets with the intention to sell them or give them away, while 13 percent keep them due to “sentimental value”.

At the same time, thousands of tons of e-waste are shipped from wealthy nations—including members of the European Union—to developing countries every year, adding to their recycling burden.

At the receiving end, financial means are often lacking for e-waste to be treated safely: hazardous substances such as mercury and plastic can contaminate soil, pollute water and enter the food chain, as happened near a Ghanaian e-waste dumpsite.

Research carried out in the West African nation in 2019 by the IPEN and Basel Action Network revealed a level of chlorinated dioxins (which are byproducts of plastic structure) in hens’ eggs laid near the Agbogbloshie dumpsite, near central Accra, 220 times higher than levels permitted in Europe.

I’d better go through my bedside drawer and dispose of the pile of ewaste gathering there!

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

HAMNET Report 9th October 2022

In interim reports from GDACS of statistics after Hurricane Ian finally dissipated on 2nd October, more than 100 fatalities were recorded, while a number of people were still missing. 1900 rescues had been carried out, half a million households were without power, and more than 25 Counties had clean water shortages.

People across Florida remained without access to drinking water, while 138 healthcare facilities were impacted. As of 2nd October, there were 3,607 persons displaced to 44 shelters in Florida. The water level of many rivers across Florida was still above the major flood stage.

Emergency responders dealing with the tragic aftermath of the hurricane may have suffered extra setbacks on Sunday (Oct. 2) as a major solar flare disrupted radio communications.

The solar flare, a powerful X1 (the mildest form of the strongest category of flares) erupted from the sun on Sunday at 19h53 UTC and peaked about 30 minutes later. Since solar flares travel at the speed of light, the burst of electromagnetic radiation caused an immediate radio blackout up to an hour long on the sun-facing side of the planet. The affected region included the whole of the U.S., according to the SpaceWeatherWatch. 

The radio blackout, classed by the U.S. National Oceanic as a strong R3 category, likely affected rescue workers using 25 MHz radios to communicate in areas where the rampage of Hurricane Ian knocked down cell phone networks.

Yesterday, Saturday the 8th, Greg G0DUB received another request from Carlos CO2JC to respect a large number of HF frequencies in the usual emergency slots.

Tropical Storm JULIA, had formed on Friday night, and was moving west across the southern Caribbean Sea at about 30 km/h. At 21:00 UTC its centre was located about 235 km north of Barranquilla (Colombia) and about 725 km east of Isla Providencia (Colombia). It had maximum sustained winds of 65 km/h and a minimum central pressure of 1002 hPa.

By Saturday its wind speeds had increased to 130km/h and about 600000 people were in its projected path.

According to the forecast track, the centre of Julia was expected to pass near or over the islands of San Andrés and Providencia on Saturday night and then make landfall, perhaps as a hurricane, on the Nicaraguan coast on Sunday morning. Later it will begin to weaken but it will affect Central America with rains and winds.

For this reason, Carlos decided, in communication with the emergency coordinators in the region, to ask radio amateurs to protect the emergency HF frequencies used by countries that are in the current or future path of this tropical cyclone. There are too many frequencies in all the affected countries to quote here, so just be mindful of hurricane season, and if you can hear any kind of traffic in the Emcomm passbands, please avoid them, and look elsewhere for bandwidth. Thank you.

Keith Lowes, ZS5WFD Reginal Director of HAMNET for KwaZulu Natal, sent me a report of the Isuzu Ironman 70.3 Durban Race. He says:

“I had a team of 4 Hamnet KZN members who assisted with communications for the event that took place on Sunday 02 October 2022. Race control was manned by Keith ZS5WFD based at Pirates Lifesaving Club in front of Suncoast Casino complex opposite the old Natal Command building. A total of 1069 competitors entered the race. The event was originally planned for Sunday 05 June 2022, but due to the widespread destruction caused by the flooding in Durban in April and the consequent damage to key parts of the course it had been postponed.  Durban beaches were in fact still closed up until Friday before the event due to high levels of pollution having being recorded. Although levels when tested were within acceptable limits, a number of swimmers withdrew after ingesting salt water and feeling sick.

“The event was categorized as ‘Low Risk’.

“The event consisted of a 1,9Km swim at uShaka Beach, two laps of the bike stage along the M4 Ruth First highway out to Umdloti, where Wayne ZS5WAY was positioned at Penalty Tent 1, then back to Durban where Justin ZS5KT was positioned at the turnaround point at Argyle Road (Sandile Thusi Rd) which gave a distance of 90.1Km. Deon ZS5DD was positioned at the transition point at Penalty Tent 2 in the parking lot of Suncoast Casino. Finally, there was a leisurely run of 2 laps along the promenade between New Beach and Blue Lagoon covering 21.1Km. Weather conditions were hot and humid resulting in a number of casualties being treated for heat exhaustion/dehydration.

“Communications were maintained on 145.550 Simplex and the 145.625 Highway Amateur Radio Club Repeater and I am pleased to report that there were no serious incidents requiring intervention.

“It felt really good to be out and about doing what we enjoy!!”

I’m sure it did, Keith. Knowing how much you enjoy communications exercises such as these, I guess you wish they had ironman contests many times a year! Thank you for the report.

Southgate Amateur Radio News has a nice story about radio amateur Doreen Bogdan-Martin KD2JTX, who has become the first woman to be elected as secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

Ms Bogdan-Martin KD2JTX decisively beat her Russian rival Rashid Ismailov by 139 votes to 25. She will succeed Houlin Zhao, who has been in the role since 2014, when her term begins on 1 January 2023.

Bogdan-Martin is currently director of the ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT), responsible for creating policies, regulation, and providing training programs and financial strategies in developing countries.

When COVID-19 hit, she spearheaded a collaboration platform called REG4COVID for regulators and policymakers to share initiatives for keeping communities connected during the pandemic.

A qualified amateur radio operator, Bogdan-Martin has held leadership positions in global telecoms policy for over two decades.

On September 29th, Doreen KD2JTX tweeted:

“Immensely proud to be the first woman ever elected to the post of @ITU Secretary-General.
“We’ve finally smashed a 157-y.o. glass ceiling! – and I hope this result inspires women & girls everywhere to dream big & make those dreams a reality!”

Congratulations to KD2JTX on her appointment. I hope this means that amateur radio gets even more support in the ITU than it already enjoys.

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

HAMNET Report 2nd October 2022

Disasters of the natural type continue to occupy our attention.

Tropical Cyclone NORU is still active over the South China Sea, leaving 12 dead in Philippines, and 6 still missing, 16 fatalities in Northern Cambodia, and 1 in Thailand. Injuries in the region top 100, and more than 50 000 people are displaced. Moderate to heavy rainfall is still being experienced in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand

Tropical Cyclone FIONA did in fact reach Canada in the week, much to my surprise, impacting the eastern provinces, resulting in a few deaths and lots of structural damage to property. Fortunately, it has blown itself out now, and the Caribbean islands and Canada can proceed with mopping-up activities.

But in its wake, a new storm, to become Tropical Storm (or Hurricane) IAN, was given an orange alert level last Sunday, as it arose below Cuba on the map, crossed the western end of Cuba in a northerly direction, and strengthened to a category 4 storm before it struck the west coast of Florida. Wind speeds of up to 220 km/h were forecast in its path.

On Tuesday, it was announced that Cuba had activated its National Emergency Network, and was using the 40 meter frequencies of 7110 or 7120 KHz for emergency communications. Carlos CO2JC requested the amateur radio community to guard these frequencies until the network was decommissioned.

The entire island state of Cuba lost its electricity supply as a result of the storm, a few deaths were initially reported, and then a small boatload of migrants, some 23 in all, apparently went missing, as the boat apparently sank at sea during the storm. By Wednesday only a part of Cuba had regained power.

On Tuesday, the ARRL issued a communique noting that Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®) groups and volunteers had ramped up preparations as the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) reported that Hurricane Ian continued quickly to intensify. The Hurricane Watch Net was active and operating on 14.325 MHz.

By Wednesday afternoon, IAN was just west of the Florida coastline, and a red alert for its forecast devastation had been issued. Florida’s Governor had activated the National Guard, and at least two and a half million people had been advised to evacuate their homes in IAN’s path. It was expected that IAN would cross the mid-zone of the Florida panhandle, move out into the Atlantic and then come ashore again on the border between Georgia and South Carolina on Friday afternoon.

GDACS was expecting that at least 5 million people would be exposed to wind speeds of 120km/h or more.

ARRL Director of Emergency Management Josh Johnston, KE5MHV, said many ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®) volunteers and their groups were involved across Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. ARRL had previously deployed Ham Aid kits in the region. The kits include amateur radio equipment for disaster response when communications equipment is unavailable.

Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, Net Manager for the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN), said the net is now transitioning from receiving weather data to gathering post-storm reports. “These reports include damage and areas that are flooded,” said Graves. “This gives the forecasters additional information they need. Also, since FEMA has an office in the National Hurricane Centre, they look over these reports to get a bigger picture of what has happened, which in turn helps them to get help and humanitarian assistance where it is needed.”

Graves added that the HWN will be assisting with emergency, priority, and any Health and Welfare Traffic. The net may continue operations for days. The HWN will issue an after-action report to detail the number of amateur radio operators who participated on the net.

Thanks to the ARRL Newsletter for various aspects of these notes.

By Thursday night, at least 12 deaths had been reported, 700 rescues of individuals had taken place and 15000 were still sheltering in centres. Definitely not just your average storm!

And please accept my apologies for all this doom and gloom!

A planning meeting for the next National Nuclear Regulatory Koeberg Emergency Exercise, on 4th November, will take place this coming Thursday afternoon. HAMNET Western Cape is again invited to attend. Part of the agenda will surround a further debrief of the exercise held in September. More news, if there is any, next week.

I’m happy to report that, if you didn’t hear about it, NASA was extraordinarily accurate with its catty on Tuesday morning early, and managed to hit the little moon, Dimorphos, of the asteroid Didymos, slap bang amidships, with its DART satellite at a distance of about 11 million kilometres. Not too shabby, when you remember that Dimorphos is about the size of a rugby stadium, or roughly 30 giraffes in diameter!

Dart was travelling at 22500 km/h when it struck Dimorphos, and was expected to change the speed of the travelling moon, and thus its trajectory, by a fraction of one percent! The satellite adjusted its own trajectory to hit Dimorphos just slightly to the side of head-on, and is expected to shift Dimorphos’ orbit into a slightly lower, and thus faster one around Didymos.

So, we wait with baited breath to hear if Dimorphos’ orbit has been shifted by the impact of the satellite roughly the size of a vending machine, or perhaps one of our President’s prize buffaloes. I can hardly control my impatience.


Thank you to the BBC and NASA for this diagram.

Believe it or not, a cubesat called LICIACube, was launched with DART, and given the important task of taking pictures prior to the collision and then flying away and taking pictures of the wreckage left behind.3 days ago. You have to be impressed at the way NASA thinks of everything!

This is clearly a proof-of-concept mission. If Dimorphos is moved into a new orbit by the impact, then the world has a trump card up its sleeve to play one day if an earth-threatening asteroid is every discovered. That will be great news indeed.

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR, reporting for HAMNET in South