Tag Archives: NASA

George Knudsen (W4GCK): A Life in Apollo


I’m very proud to note that my good friend, George Knudsen (W4GCK), has been featured on the excellent omega tau podcast.

The interview is absolutely fascinating–here’s a description:

George Knudsen started working in 1958 on the Redstone missile, and moved on to working on the Atlas ICBM. Later he worked on the Saturn 5 launch vehicle, where he was responsible for the fuel tanks. He was on the launch team at Cape Canaveral for various Apollo missions. In this episode [we] talk with George about his work in this fascinating period of science and engineering history.

Click here to listen via the omega tau site.

omega tau, hosted by Markus Völter, covers a wide variety of topics from engineering and science. It’s one of my favorite podcasts, so I would encourage you to not only listen to this episode, but subscribe to the podcast.

X-class solar flare causes radio blackout


(Image source: Screen capture from NASA video)

(Source: Discovery News)

The sun has erupted with its first X-class solar flare of 2015, a not-so-subtle reminder that it can still muster the energy required to generate the most powerful class of solar explosion.

The magnetic eruption occurred yesterday (Wednesday) at 12:22 p.m. ET (16:22 UT), lighting up a huge area in the lower solar corona (the sun’s magnetically dominated ‘atmosphere’). Shortly after the huge eruption, that measured X2 on the scale of flare energy, Spaceweather.com reports a radio blackout was detected over large swathes of the globe, including much of the Americas.

“The X-flare scrambled the ionosphere thoroughly so that no decametric radio signals were supported in my part of the world,” said amateur radio astronomer Thomas Ashcraft. “The ionosphere started to reform after about fifteen minutes when stations began to reappear. (The stuff visible during the blackout was my own observatory electricity. Nothing exterior.)”

Based in New Mexico, Ashcraft reports that the blackout was most obvious in the frequency range of 15 MHz to 26 MHz.

[Continue reading at Discovery News…]

Good news? There may be some HF band openings in the wake of this flare. We shall see.

The Juno Earth Flyby QSL card

Happiness is receiving the Juno Earth Flyby QSL card in the mail:



Many thanks to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory for making the Juno Flyby such a fun experiment. To read more about the flyby, check out our post from last year.

Were any readers able to “work” the Juno spacecraft?

Work the NASA Spacecraft Juno (and get a QSL card)!

EFB_publicmap1-675Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Troy, who emailed us about a really fun and unique opportunity for amateur radio operators:  to send the NASA spacecraft Juno a Morse Code greeting [specifically, “HI”] when it passes over Earth tomorrow, starting around 18:00 UTC.

The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory explains:

“NASA’s Juno spacecraft will fly past Earth on October 9, 2013, to receive a gravity assist from our planet, putting it on course for Jupiter. To celebrate this event, the Juno mission is inviting amateur radio operators around the world to say “HI” to Juno in a coordinated Morse Code message. Juno’s radio & plasma wave experiment, called Waves, should be able to detect the message if enough people participate. So please join in, and help spread the word to fellow amateur radio enthusiasts!

This page will be updated with additional information as the event approaches. In addition, we have created a Facebook event page where you are welcome to a discuss[ion of] this activity.”

ham_morsecode_ditsTo be clear, this is a coordinated and unified message to the Juno craft; there will be no opportunity to hear a response from it.  Rather, the Waves instrument data containing the message will be shared by the Juno team after the flyby.  But still, what fun!

If you’re a licensed ham, and this sounds like something that you’d like to be part of, please check out the the NASA JPL page dedicated to this event. It has all of the information you’ll need to transmit to Juno, including a countdown clock–or to simply listen to everyone who does. Be sure to check out Juno’s Technical FAQ (click on the FAQ link) which answers a lot of the questions participants have already asked.

I’ll certainly do my best to be a part of the unified greeting to Juno.

I should note that I’m pleased to see the JPL page is running despite the US government shutdown. Many other NASA web pages have been affected.

Hi, Juno; we send our greetings!


Massive sunspots appear, solar flares could follow

(Source: NASA/SDO/AIA/HMI/Goddard Space Flight Center via CSM)

(Source: NASA/SDO/AIA/HMI/Goddard Space Flight Center via CSM)

(Source: Christian Science Monitor)

A colossal sunspot on the surface of the sun is large enough to swallow six Earths whole, and could trigger solar flares this week, NASA scientists say.

The giant sunspot was captured on camera by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory as it swelled to enormous proportions over the 48 hours spanning Tuesday and Wednesday (Feb. 19 and 20).[…]

“It has grown to over six Earth diameters across, but its full extent is hard to judge since the spot lies on a sphere, not a flat disk,” wrote NASA spokeswomanKaren Fox, of the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., in an image description.

[S]ome of the intense magnetic fields in the sunspot region are pointing in opposite directions, making it ripe for solar activity.

“This is a fairly unstable configuration that scientists know can lead to eruptions of radiation on the sun called solar flares,” Fox explained.

Propagation in the higher portions of the HF band could be very interesting over the course of the next few days.  If a solar flare erupts, however, it could make shortwave listening quite difficult.

Thanks for the tip, Bill!