HAMNET Report 30th July 2023

Since Monday, the top end of the Philippines, the bottom end of Taiwan, and the Chinese mainland in between, have been threatened by a new tropical cyclone called DOKSURI, or EGAY by the Philippine citizens. Bearing from south-east in the direction of north-west, it was expected to clip the two island nations before hitting the Chinese coast, with wind speeds of up to 240km/h. The numbers of people in the area threatened by winds of at least 120km/h were estimated at nearly 23 million by Friday. Sixteen deaths were reported from Philippines by Friday, with twenty more missing.

Parts of Taiwan and coastal mainland China are expected to experience heavy downpours of between 250 and 400mm of rain before the storm is over.

Meanwhile there is now an orange alert for Tropical Cyclone KHANUN, active in the north-west Pacific, and threatening Japan and China. Preliminary forecasts suggest maximum wind speeds of 160km/h, with as many as 42 million people within the cone of its 120km/h winds.

And of course, the south-western and southern parts of our country are in the grip of a major cold front, and its following cold air. News24.com says that Western Cape Disaster Risk Management teams are on high alert after warnings were issued for cold and wet weather over the weekend.

The head of the Western Cape’s disaster management service, Colin Diener, said teams were preparing for heavy rains, strong coastal winds, low temperatures and snowfall.

“We are specifically concerned about areas in the Overstrand and Garden Route districts, and snowfall in high-lying areas. People should rather postpone outdoor plans for this weekend,” he said.

Diener added that the provincial government was speaking to nature conservation organisations about closing some walking and hiking routes in the province.

The South African Weather Service issued warnings for “disruptive rainfall” and “damaging waves”.

A strong cold front, accompanied by snowfall and heavy rainfall, made landfall on Friday evening along the country’s west coast. Heavy rainfall was expected to lead to flooding over parts of Cape Town, the Cape Winelands, as well as the Overberg and Garden Route districts.

Snowfall is expected across the interior mountain ranges of the Western Cape. Very cold conditions, with maximum temperatures of between 5°C and 10°C, are expected over the interior from Saturday and into Sunday. Snow is also expected over the Eastern Cape Mountains spreading to the Drakensberg and Lesotho.

High seas with wave heights between 6 and 7 metres are expected along the south coast of the Western Cape from yesterday and into today.

Now space.com has a worrying story in the “climate decay” category. (That is, if you are not one of the folk who believe we have nothing to do with climate change.) They say that a major system of ocean currents that ferries heat from the tropics to the North Atlantic could shut down far sooner than expected, according to new predictions. Such a collapse would prove catastrophic for Earth’s climate.

The system, known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) had previously been measured to be dramatically weakening in conjunction with rising ocean temperatures. Despite this, however, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently announced that climate scientists don’t expect the AMOC to totally switch off within the century. 

But a new study is now challenging that conclusion, raising the spectre of a halted AMOC to as early as 2025.

“Shutting down the AMOC can have very serious consequences for Earth’s climate, for example, by changing how heat and precipitation are distributed globally,” study leader Peter Ditlevsen, from the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen, said in a statement.

Finding that direct measurements of the AMOC’s strength have only been made for the past 15 years, Ditlevsen’s team applied sophisticated statistical tools to ocean temperature data going all the way back to the 1870s for an enhanced dataset. This detailed analysis ultimately suggested significant warning signs of the AMOC shutting down between 2025 and 2095, with a staggering certainty of 95%. More specifically, the team’s results evidenced that the most likely time for this collapse would be around 2057.

Still, other climate scientists remain cautious, saying that there are still uncertainties in the data that could affect its accuracy. However, it’s worth considering that even the mere possibility of the AMOC shutting down so soon is rather alarming.

The AMOC, which includes the Gulf Stream as part of its system, is our planet’s main mode of transporting heat away from the tropics. Without it, the tropics would rapidly increase in temperature while vital tropical rains would get disrupted. Such rains are essential for the environments of South America, western Africa as well as in India and other regions of south Asia.

Meanwhile, northern and western Europe would lose their source of warm water from the tropics, leading to more storms and severely cold winters in these areas. The loss of the Gulf Stream in particular would also result in rising sea levels on the US eastern seaboard. 

“Our result underscores the importance of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible,” Ditlevsen said.

In recent years, we’ve already seen the dangers of human-induced climate warming play out as heatwaves grip much of the northern hemisphere. And although the loss of the AMOC may see northern and western Europe cool, “this shutdown will contribute to an increased warming of the tropics,” Ditlevsen said, “where rising temperatures have already given rise to challenging living conditions.”

The findings were published on Tuesday (25th of July) in the journal Nature Communications.

NASA, in its newsletter of this week, says that they and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have announced Lockheed Martin as the prime contractor for the design, integration, and testing of a nuclear-powered rocket demonstration.

The Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) program will test a nuclear-powered rocket in space as soon as 2027. The partnership will advance the development of nuclear thermal rocket technology, supporting both agencies’ goals.

For NASA, nuclear propulsion is one of the primary capabilities on the roadmap for crewed missions to Mars. A nuclear-powered rocket would allow for a shorter, faster trip to the Red Planet, reducing the mission’s complexity and risk for the crew. This type of rocket can be more than twice as efficient as conventional chemical rockets, meaning it requires significantly less propellant and could carry more equipment for scientific goals.

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR, celebrating what would have been my Father’s 117th birthday today, and reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.

HAMNET Report 23rd July 2023

Last week, I rattled off a long list of countries that were experiencing storms, floods and landslides. Certainly evidence of extreme weather conditions.

On Friday morning, American news channels carried a report about Phoenix, Arizona, which on the previous day, had experienced its 20th straight day with maximum temperatures of 43 degrees Celsius or more. That is some sort of an extreme weather record too.

Canada is still in the grip of multiple wildfires, and I believe three groups of South African firefighters are assisting there. And a huge wildfire has been burning across north-western La Palma Island, the north-westernmost island of the Canary Islands, Spain. The wildfires started on 15 July around 1:00 UTC and currently they are affecting Puntagorda, Tijarafe and Garafía Municipalities. According to the National Civil Defense (DSN), as of 17 July, the burnt area is approximately 4,000 hectares and the wildfire is currently not fully contained.

A huge wildfire has also been burning in Greece since the 17th of July, affecting an east Attica region in central Greece, and which has already burnt at least 3500 hectares.

Here’s another report of Laser communication research. Interestingengineering.com says that a team at Northumbria University in the UK will build a satellite communications system after receiving a £5 million award from the UK Space Agency, a press statement reveals.

The new funding paves the way for the UK’s first university-led multi-satellite space mission. The team will work on a new type of laser-based system that has the potential to improve satellite communications vastly.

The UK Space Agency funding will allow the consortium to design, test, and build the first CubeSat with laser optical communications technology, and to launch it in 2025.

The team behind the new system leads a consortium that aims to develop the world’s first commercially available system that communicates with separate satellites using lasers rather than radio frequencies.

Today, satellites typically use radio frequencies to transmit data. The issue with radio communications is that it is more vulnerable to disruption and has a limited capacity.

In theory, Lasers can transmit 1,000 times more data per second than radio frequency and can also do so more securely.

The Northumbria University team has partnered with Durham University, satellite communications specialists e2E, and manufacturing company SMS Electronics Limited. It also recently expanded to include global aerospace company Lockheed Martin, which will lead the system’s engineering development.

An unexpected legacy from the past has turned up on the small island nation of Nauru, in the Pacific Ocean and 4500 km away from Australia. Construction workers discovered an unexploded 225kg WW2 era bomb on the 7th of July. The entire nation of 11000 people live on this 21 square kilometre island, and their President ordered closure of schools and workplaces, and evacuation of an area 4km in diameter around the bomb on Thursday, when Australian sappers were due to try to defuse it.

Apparently fighting between the US and Japan took place there towards the end of their conflict in the mid 1940’s. I did not hear of a detonation, and have not heard that the attempts were unsuccessful, so let’s hope it was defused, and removed safely!

Here’s a curious story. In the city of Nanaimo, on the East coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, there is a club called the Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society, which is a marine endeavour, and today, the 23rd of July, they will be holding the world championship bathtub race. And, would you believe it, amateur radio will be there to supervise.

The Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society, this year, is saluting the contributions that the Nanaimo Amateur Radio Association (NARA) has made to the event over the years in keeping tubbers accounted for and safe when out on the water.

Well before the racers head out into the harbour to start the Great International World Championship Bathtub Race on Sunday, July 23, NARA volunteers will have set up checkpoints on land at Berry Point on Gabriola Island, on the Winchelsea Islands, and at Neck Point, and will be at bathtub control on the 11th floor of the Coast Bastion Hotel. They will also have volunteers at Brechin Boat Ramp to track tubbers who don’t make it all the way around the course.

“We try to provide a communications team that backs up the bathtub society and provides tub tracking, safety and security information, track all of that out on the course and relay that information in to tub control…” said Chris Anton, the association’s treasurer. “It’s fundamentally part of the safety function to be able to know where the tubs are, or probably more importantly, where a tub isn’t.”

NARA volunteers identify and record every bathtub that passes their checkpoints and report the information using amateur radio, via their own radio repeaters at Lost Lake and Mount Benson, to tub control. They used to keep track of the tubbers on a white board there, but have modernized and now use a spreadsheet they can publish and refresh online.

Rod Grounds, Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society vice-commodore, said the radio association’s contributions are part of an emergency preparedness communication network.

“We know exactly where the tub made it or how far they got, and if somebody didn’t show up to their final destination, we now have a search location because they didn’t pass a specific checkpoint,” he said.

There will also be spotters in a barge near Gallows Point on Saysutshun and on the world’s biggest bathtub in Nanaimo harbour. Anton said in past years, there have been radio operators on Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue and naval vessels. NARA spotters use binoculars and digital cameras with telephoto lenses to identify the tub numbers.

“Particularly at Entrance Island, the tubs are coming fast and furious and they’re bouncing around out on the water depending what the wind conditions are like,” Anton said.

NARA members pursue their hobby in various ways throughout the year, whether through amateur radio operator training, radio ‘foxhunts,’ or helping with mountain bike races in areas where cellular coverage is spotty or non-existent. But the bathtub race has always been one of their big days on the calendar.

“The driving force is being able to provide community service to an organization like the bathtub society,” Anton said. “Beyond that, it’s a lot of fun for the participants and it’s also a technical challenge, as well – you need to be able to go out to all of these different locations, have radio equipment that works, connections through the repeater system that work … We’ve had a lot of dedicated people that have been out year after year after year.”

Unfortunately, they don’t say what methods of propulsion are used, nor does the report have pictures, but I sure hope they remember to weld the plugholes shut before the race. Their chances of winning the race will otherwise be scuttled, in more ways than one!

This is Dave Reece, ZS1DFR, hurriedly climbing out of his bathtub before it fills up with seawater, and reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.

HAMNET Report 16th July 2023

The editor’s pick at fairplanet.org tells us that, In the recent past, Africa has had to contend with extreme weather events that have claimed lives, disrupted livelihoods and shone the spotlight on the realities of the devastating impacts of climate change. 

From severe cyclones in Southern Africa to floods in West Africa, wildfires in Northern and Central Africa and prolonged dry spells in Eastern Africa that led to one of the most crippling droughts in decades, these climate change-induced phenomena have redefined the 21st-century climate scene.

For example, in the first months of 2022, a series of cyclones hit Southern African countries, claiming the lives of some 890 people and affecting an extra 2.8 million with attendant effects such as malnutrition and waterborne diseases. 

As communities across the globe experience such weather changes more frequently, researchers say people in small island states, Africa, South Asia, and South and Central America are 15 times more likely to die from weather-related disasters. 

According to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), recorded disasters have become five times more frequent in the past 50 years, primarily sparked by human-led climate change. If nothing is done, these events are poised to grow to 560 every year or 1.5 every day by 2030. 

As the world watches these catastrophes unfold, half of its countries are still missing these requisite early warning systems that are critical to saving lives. In Africa, only 40% of the continent has such systems, some of which have quality issues. 

Countries that have invested in robust early warning systems have one-eighth the disaster mortality of those with limited or no coverage. The Global Commission on Adaptation asserts that investing $800 million in these systems, especially in developing countries, can avoid losses of $3 to 16 billion annually. 

The Early Warnings for All Executive Action Plan is a laudable development. The UN-led strategy seeks to extend early warning coverage to all of the world’s people by 2027, leveraging the low-cost benefits of pre-emptive disaster strategies that would particularly benefit the world’s most vulnerable.

But for the plan to work and reach a critical mass, it must be inclusive, people-centred and alive to the fact that disasters respect no boundaries. Therefore, coordination among national, regional and international entities in information and resource sharing must be matched with coordinated disaster management on the ground.

Thank you to fairplanet.org for this review.

An overview of severe weather news on GDACS daily report on Tuesday, for example, notes severe weather with flooding or landslides in India, Pakistan, Philippines, Indonesia, Mongolia, Japan, the US, Brazil and France. Flood warnings were issued for Georgia in the Caucasus and the UK as well. All that in just one day’s reporting!

The Huntington Daily News has an interesting story about runners from across the U.S. and abroad [who] faced heat, humidity and a thundering downpour as they raced against the clock this weekend to complete a 63-mile (100km) course through the tri-county area.

The second annual Ironstone 100K wrapped up [last] Sunday at Greenwood Furnace State Park. The race started at 2 p.m. [on] Saturday from Canoe Creek State Park, giving competitors 23 hours to cross the finish line.

Race director Ben Mazur said four runners beat last year’s record. The first to cross the finish line, Raymond Stoltfus, completed the race in 14 hours and 14 minutes. Stoltfus, who hails from Quarryville in Lancaster County, said he’s long enjoyed running and biking but is new to the world of ultramarathons, having entered his first long-distance competition in March.

The Ironstone’s defending female champion claimed her second first place win with a time of 17 hours and 16 minutes. Mary Kowalski of Hollidaysburg has between 15 and 20 ultramarathons under her belt thus far, and many more short-distance races.

Mazur said the heat and humidity challenged this year’s group of runners.

“A lot of participants underestimated the heat,” he said.

The day’s high of 91 degrees F [33 degrees C] was six points above average, according to the Weather Channel.

A thunder and lightning storm which passed through the area overnight was a “mixed blessing” for competitors.

“It cooled them down but it made the rocks slippery, increasing the technical difficulty,” he said.

Despite meteorological challenges, a greater number of participants finished the course in the 23-hour allotted time, compared to the 2022 race, he said. Mazur thanked the Mid-State Trail Association and DCNR for their support leading up to race day. He also thanked the park managers at both Canoe Creek and Greenwood Furnace for their assistance.

The Stone Creek Valley Fire Co. and representatives from several area amateur radio organizations, including Blair County’s Horseshoe Curve Amateur Radio Club, provided communications support for the duration of the race.

100km of trail running through the night and during a thunderstorm is not for the fainthearted. Thanks to Huntington Daily news for the report.

A light-hearted article in theguardian.com compares the amount of carbon dioxide generated by animals or the preparation of their food, with various well-known sources of global warming emissions.

They note for example that about 4 million households in the UK have a fish tank, and 70% of them keep tropical fish. They’re not precise about how many tropical fish are contained in each tank, but say a tankful could generate as much CO2 per year as travelling about 5000km on a motorbike. This is more than the average meat-eating cat, which produces only 250kg of CO2 per year!

But neither are as damaging as your average dog, which, if fed wet food for a year, would be responsible for the generation of some 6500kg of CO2, which equates to about 14 round-trip flights in Europe! Fed dry food, this theoretical dog would generate just 828kg. Meanwhile the average use of the washing machine accounts for about 118kg of generated CO2 per year.

And one goldfish in a bowl is responsible for the production of 25kg per year, you’ll be relieved to hear.

They don’t actually say as much, but I’m sure they are also including the CO2 generated in the production of the foods you feed these animals, or the energy needed to use these pieces of equipment. I’ve never heard of a washing machine that exhales CO2, have you?

Unless of course, you are having to do your washing by hand, and muttering expletives under your breath as you exhale all that CO2!

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR, immediately converting his average dog to dry food, and reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.

HAMNET Report 9th July 2023

The ARRL letter for the end of June reminds us of an antenna that holds an important place in scientific history on a small parcel of land on Crawford Hill, New Jersey.

The antenna is known as the Holmdell Horn Antenna, and it was built in 1959 by researchers at the then Bell Labs. It was originally designed to bounce radio signals off reflective satellite balloons for long-distance communication. It worked, and the Holmdel Horn Antenna was no longer needed.

Two Bell Labs astronomer employees, Arno A. Penzias and Robert W. Wilson, received permission in 1965 to use the antenna to search for radio transmissions in outer space. They pointed the antenna toward what was considered a quiet area, but what they discovered was anything but quiet. They discovered Cosmic Microwave Background radiation, which provided evidence for the Big Bang Theory.

Now, there is a historical marker at the site, but there has been some dispute as to who owns the antenna and surrounding land. In mid-June 2023, the Holmdel Township Committee voted unanimously to approve resolutions that will begin the process of acquiring two of the three parcels that make up the [entire] Crawford Hill property. The township committee is leaving the third parcel to be part of the redevelopment toward preserving Crawford Hill as a public park to celebrate the horn antenna’s place in scientific history.

The ARRL has also published on the 46th annual International Amateur Radio Exhibition, HAM RADIO, which attracted more than 11,000 visitors to Friedrichshafen, Germany, from June 23 – 25, 2023.

Messe Friedrichshafen Managing Director Klaus Wellmann and Project Manager Petra Rathgeber were delighted with the success of the event.

“HAM RADIO lived up to its reputation as Europe’s largest amateur radio exhibition. In cooperation with the German Amateur Radio Club (DARC), the perfect partner for the event, we showed that amateur radio plays an important role in society,” said Wellmann and Rathgeber. “This year’s slogan, ‘We’re all about STEM!’ was brought to full fruition, with many activities focusing on work with young people — something that really brought in the crowds.”

A recent press release from HAM RADIO said young attendees were able to tinker and make things under guidance, and they were also able to test their knowledge in the Ham Rally, a technical scavenger hunt featuring 25 stations. Students were encouraged to try sending Morse code, and pass the QSL card quiz.

“We were really happy with the way this year’s exhibition went,” said Christian Entsfellner, DL3MBG, Chairman of DARC.

A total of 392 participants, including 149 commercial exhibitors and international associations, as well as 243 flea market exhibitors, represented the unique diversity of amateur radio around the world.

Plans are already being made for next year’s HAM RADIO to be held June 28 – 30, 2024.

We have previously spoken of data transmission from satellites to earth and vice versa, using lasers. Interestingengineering.com reports this week that Changguang Satellite Technology, a State-owned enterprise based in the Jilin province of China, announced the achievement of a major milestone in space technology by successfully deploying laser-based high-speed communication on commercial satellites. This breakthrough has increased the speed of space-to-ground data transfer tenfold, reaching an impressive 10 gigabytes per second (Gbps). 

This advancement is made possible through lasers acting as data carriers, offering a much wider spectrum than traditional microwave technology. The deployment of this cutting-edge technology is expected to revolutionize ground communication with satellites.

The successful test involved researchers from the Aerospace Information Research Institute (AIR), a branch of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who set up the satellite-to-ground link using lasers. 

The ground-based team received laser signals emitted from the Jilin-1 MF02A04 satellite, part of the world’s largest imaging satellite network, the Jilin-1 constellation. This constellation plays a crucial role in various sectors, including land resource surveys, urban planning, and disaster monitoring.

Li Yalin, leader of the ground system at AIR, explained the advantages of laser communication using an interesting analogy: “Using the common microwave at 375 MHz is like driving on a single lane, and the emerging [technology of a] higher 1.5 GHz microwave would be a four-lane road. Lasers, meanwhile, can accommodate hundreds or even thousands of lanes,” he told South China Morning Post.

This vast improvement in bandwidth allows transmitting [the equivalent of] a high-definition movie in just one second, 10 to 1,000 times faster than current microwave communication methods.

Thanks to interestingenegineering.com for this excerpt from their report.

 Phys.org has again come to my rescue with appropriate reporting. They have an article from techxplore.com which says that University of California Berkeley researchers have designed an extreme-weather proven, hand-held device that can extract and convert water molecules from the air into drinkable water using only ambient sunlight as its energy source, a study published in Nature Water shows.

This atmospheric water harvester used an ultra-porous material known as a metal-organic framework (MOF) to extract water repeatedly in the hottest and driest place in North America, Death Valley National Park. These tests showed the device could provide clean water anywhere, addressing an urgent problem, as climate change exacerbates drought conditions.

“Almost one-third of the world’s population lives in water-stressed regions. The UN projects in the year 2050 that almost 5 billion people on our planet will experience some kind of water stress for a significant part of the year,” said Omar Yaghi, the Berkeley chemistry professor who invented MOFs and is leading this study. “This is quite relevant to harnessing a new source for water.”

Berkeley researchers tested the device in Berkeley, Calif., and Death Valley National Park in California. The MOF-powered [unit] extracted water repeatedly in both locations, despite extremely low-humidity conditions and wide-ranging daily temperatures in Death Valley.

It is also extremely efficient at harvesting water, releasing as drinking water 85 to 90 percent of the water it captures as atmospheric vapour. It harvested up to 285 grams of water per kilogram of metal-organic framework in a day, the equivalent of a cup of water. The MOF can continue to operate for many cycles over many years without being replenished or modified. At the end of its lifetime, the MOF can be disassembled and reassembled in water with zero discharge and in a sustainable manner. And the beauty is that it runs on sunlight, and emits no harmful emissions.

Thanks to Phys.org for that news.

The HAMNET report welcomes any news relative to electronics and services to the community, so is happy to receive any suggestions from the listeners and readers. Please contact me at zs1dfr@gmail.com.

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET from a wet and chilly Cape Town.

HAMNET Report 2nd July 2023

Grant Southey, ZS6GS, our HAMNET National Director has shared with me the obituary penned by the Department of Transport and SASAR, on the untimely passing of Mr Jared Blows, Chief of the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, 10 days ago.

They write: “Mr Blows had been in the maritime domain for almost 19 years, and had risen from being a Duty Controller, to Regional MRCC Chief. He served as a maritime expert in different forums, such as a member of the ICAO/IMO Joint Working Group, and an IMRF member.

“He was very instrumental in the drafting of the ground-breaking Multilateral Agreement between South Africa, Angola, Comoros, Madagascar, Mozambique and Namibia, and the signing thereof. This allowed the establishment of the Regional MRCC in South Africa, inaugurated in 2007. He assisted in the establishment and manning of this MRCC, and hosted visits from the IMO, the Minister of Transport and the directors general in the department.

“Later, he took SASAR under his wing, leading them in all areas of their work.

“He served the nation with pride and joy, and the SASAR family at large expresses its profound grief at his passing, and conveys condolences to his family and friends.”


The country has had its fair share of extreme weather this week. Downpours and a mini-tornado in Inanda township, north of Durban, widespread rain and thunderstorms along the KZN South Coast and Durban, record-breaking amounts of rain over the Western Cape for June, extremely cold conditions right round the country, and snow in the north-eastern region of the Eastern Cape, Lesotho and the Southern Drakensberg, have brought the month of June to a wintery close. And it appears not to be over yet, so please think twice before venturing out on risky expeditions, keep your radios on your local emergency frequencies when you’re home, and be available to provide assistance in whatever way you can to family, neighbours and your community if it is threatened.

The ARRL Field Day weekend has come and gone, and, all in all, it would seem that propagation was good, and contacts were plentiful. Several commentators have discussed the usual problem of using two radios simultaneously and in close proximity on adjacent bands. Risks to the receiver front ends by transmissions from nearby antennas were mitigated by the use of narrow single-band filters mostly, as well as siting antennas at a distance and orientation sufficient to reduce overloading. I have not seen reports of receiver damage yet, but these are still early days. The weather seems to have been reasonable, and the solar indices fairly cooperative, so communications within the Americas seem to have been good. Perhaps the local Dx’ers will comment in the near future as to whether contacts were possible with American stations?

Writing in techxplore.com, Carolyn Thompson and Patrick Whittle say that Edward Cassano and his colleagues from Pelagic Research Services quickly learned when they arrived in the remote stretch of ocean where the Titan submersible had gone missing, that they would have to do what other deep-sea experts had already tried unsuccessfully: to find the lost sub in some of the most forbidding depths of the North Atlantic.

They set to work deploying their own remotely operated vehicle, the Odysseus, from a ship with a giant “umbilical cord,” then lowered the behemoth to the ocean floor, a process that took about an hour and a half, Cassano said on Friday at a news conference held at the suburban Buffalo headquarters of his company, Pelagic Research Services.

Just moments after Odysseus arrived on the seafloor, its high-definition cameras sent back images of debris that were undoubtedly what remained of the Titan. The Canadian ship Horizon Arctic brought Odysseus to the search area that had been established for the Titan, and the underwater robot was offloaded into the ocean on June 22. The Titan’s debris was located on the seafloor about 3,810 meters underwater. The ship returned to port on Wednesday the 28th with mangled chunks of the submersible.

Investigating the debris is a crucial part of a multiagency investigation into why the Titan imploded on its way to view wreckage of the Titanic. The Coast Guard is leading the investigation. Pelagic’s team conducted 24-hour operations with Odysseus even after finding the wreckage, Cassano said. While tethered to its mother ship, the robot used heavy lifting capabilities to retrieve the heavy debris from the ocean floor, he said.

Asked what he thought of the Titan’s voyage, Cassano said that, based on his own experience with a company that focuses on deep-sea research, he believes the crew was motivated by “a passion and a joy for exploration.”

There are hundreds of remote-operated vehicles, or ROVs, operating around the world, using robotic arms, lights and cameras to work in parts of the deep ocean that would be dangerous or impossible for humans to access.

ROVs were first developed in the 1960s and have been used for military, scientific and industrial uses, such as underwater safety inspections of platforms and pipelines, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. An ROV named Jason Jr. developed by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution was used to explore the Titanic in 1986, the year after explorers discovered the iconic ocean liner’s wreckage.

After the Titan was reported missing on June 18, the Navy analysed acoustic data and found an “anomaly” consistent with an implosion or explosion in the area where the vessel was when communications were lost, according to a senior U.S. Navy official.

Debris from the Titan, which is believed to have imploded that day as it made its descent, was located roughly 488 meters from the Titanic on the ocean floor. The Coast Guard hopes its investigation will result in measures to improve the safety of submersibles. Other government agencies in the U.S. and Canada are participating in the investigation.

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR, very happily on Terra Firma, and reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.