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THE MOST POWERFUL RADIO SIGNAL TRANSMITTED INTO SPACE 40 YEARS AGO – The most powerful radio signal ever transmitted, from Earth into space, was radiated from the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico on 16 November 1974 on a frequency of 2,380 GHz and EIRP of 20 TeraWatts generated by a 1 MegaWatt transmitter using a high power klystron. The three minute binary message was drafted by Dr. Frank Drake and Prof. Carl Sagan and beamed in the direction of M13, a globular star cluster in the constellation of Hercules, which happened to be overhead at the time and 25 000 light years away. The signal is travelling through space at the speed of light, and is now 40 light years from our Solar System! The radio telescope consisted of a 305 metre spherical reflector covered with perforated aluminium plates. The receiver is located on a platform suspended 150 metres above the dish by 18 cables running from three reinforced concrete towers, one 110 metres high, erected on three promontories. Arecibo is also equipped with three radar transmitters with effective isotropic radiated power of 20 TeraWatts at 2,380 GHz, 2,5 TeraWatts at 430 MHz and 300 MegaWatts at 47 MHz.
HOGGSBACK DX-PEDITION 21–23 NOVEMBER 2014 – Hennie Coetzer, ZS2HC, and Peter Tottle, ZS2ABF, will be operating an HF and VHF stations at Hoggsback, Eastern Cape, from Friday 21st until Sunday 23rd November. Here is a rough guide of times of operation. Most of the day and evening 144,300 MHz SSB with horizontally polarized Yagi. From 06:00 – 09:00 CAT 7,070 MHz up and 14 MHz. Mid-afternoon onwards 18 MHz, 21 MHz, 24 MHz and 28 MHz.
AMSAT OSCAR AO-7 CELEBRATES 40 YEARS IN ORBIT – Saturday, November 15, will mark 40 years since the AMSAT-OSCAR 7 (AO-7) ham radio satellite went into space from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and the oldest working Amateur Radio satellite. AO-7 was the second so-called “Phase 2” Amateur Radio satellite that AMSAT-NA constructed and launched into low-Earth orbit. It remained in operation until a short circuit occurred in a battery in 1981. More than 20 years later, however, AO-7 unexpectedly returned to life, its 2 metre beacon showing up on 145,9775 MHz. AMSAT describes the Mode A/B bird as “semi-operational” and dependent upon its solar panels for a reliable power source; AO-7 works only as long as its solar panels are illuminated by sunlight. Satellite experts speculate that AO-7’s resurrection occurred when the short circuit in the battery opened up for some reason, allowing the solar cells to power the spacecraft.
COASTAL VHF NEWS – Peter ZS2ABF says: “Dave ZS5DJ and myself went on to 144,300 MHz SSB horizontal yesterday, Sunday 9th at 13:00 CAT, and had a reasonable contact, East London to Ramsgate 324 km. The contact lasted +- 1Ž2 hour. We arranged to QSO again at 20:00 CAT. The evening contact was very, very poor and we packed it in after about 10 minutes as we were both in and out of the noise. We have agreed our normal sked tonight, Monday, at 20:00 CAT. Condition predictions look poor again, but you never can tell. It is overcast and raining here so I for one do not expect to hear much. Dave and I have both loaded the Aircraft Scatter Sharp program, but there are not many aircraft in and out of this sleepy hollow. I programmed in the route from Dave to my QTH, it was out of the normal traffic lanes. The route from DRN to ELS is too far inland. I guess with me having no rotator, I will not be following this interesting mode”.
PHILAE SUCCESSFULLY LANDED ON COMET – The Philae lander was released from the mothership Rosetta and took 7 hours to make a free-fall landing onto the surface of Comet 67P, but the two harpoons failed to fire and secure it to the comet. It ended up partly in a shadow, but managed to drill into the comet and radio back a lot of data before the batteries failed. It is now in hibernation until it receives enough sunlight to charge the batteries. The radio signals took half an hour from Rosetta to reach the ground tracking stations on the Earth over a distance of 500 million km. Rosetta was launched ten years ago and had to increase its orbital speed to catch up with the comet.
CAN REACTORS USING THORIUM PRODUCE SAFER NUCLEAR POWER? – The nuclear disasters at Three Mile Island USA, Chernobyl Ukraine, and Fukushima Japan turned a lot of people away from nuclear energy towards solar and wind power. Now a number of scientists admit that solar and wind power alone will not be able to cope with the energy demands for an ever-increasing world population of the future. The only answer will be found in safer nuclear power, for example, thorium with its high melting point.
The Russians learned from their Chernobyl disaster and started to experiment with sodium-cooled fast reactors, Their latest reactor, BN-800, is now feeding power into the grid, it burns a mixed uranium-plutonium fuel to reduce the stockpile of their weapons grade material, and a reactor has been exported to China. The BN-1200 is currently under construction while a future BN-1600 is also on the drawing board that will yield 1600 MegaWatts/1,6 GigaWatts of power.
BTW Andrea Rossi invented a cold fusion reactor that is now under test, which could power individual houses with their own power supply. This could solve our problem of power outages. Ironically it appears that the future of atomic power is looking rosier again!