ARRL highlights a post by The Space Weather Woman, Dr. Tamitha Skov, that notes the role amateur radio technology could play in over-the-horizon radio communications on Mars
I am still smiling at the huge response I got to a post I put up on Twitter this week. A newbie to our Space Weather community dared to talk about Amateur Radio as if it were an outdated hobby– whoops, bad idea. I gently educated him.
In doing so, I roused many radio amateurs and emergency communicators, who added their own comments and talked about their own personal experiences in the field. It was very gratifying.
What I hadn’t expected, however, was the strong interest in the concept that amateur radio will be critical to establishing over-the-horizon radio communications on planets like Mars in the near future.
This idea brings me back to how we managed to communicate over long distances many decades before we had satellites, internet or cellular networks. In terms of wireless communications on Earth, we were very much in the same place back in the early 1900s that we find ourselves in now when we think about colonizing Mars.
Yet few people realize that despite all our advanced technology, we can’t bring a cell phone to Mars. We will need to fall back on our ‘old ways’ of doing things when it comes to communicating on other planets. Isn’t it funny how ‘old’ things become ‘new’ again?
Sunspots are becoming scarce. Very scarce. So far in 2018 the sun has been blank almost 60% of the time, with whole weeks going by without sunspots. Today’s sun, shown here in an image [above] from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, is typical of the featureless solar disk.
The fact that sunspots are vanishing comes as no surprise. Forecasters have been saying for years that this would happen as the current solar cycle (“solar cycle 24”) comes to an end. The surprise is how fast.
“Solar cycle 24 is declining more quickly than forecast,” stated NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center on April 26th. This plot shows observed sunspot numbers in blue vs. the official forecast in red:
“The smoothed, predicted sunspot number for April-May 2018 is about 15,” says NOAA. “However, the actual monthly values have been lower.”
The ESA just discovered a second magnetic field surrounding our planet
A trio of satellites studying our planet’s magnetic field have shown details of the steady swell of a magnetic field produced by the ocean’s tides.
Four years of data collected by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Swarm mission have contributed to the mapping of this ‘other’ magnetic field, one that could help us build better models around global warming.
Physicist Nils Olsen from the Technical University of Denmark presented the surprising results at this year’s European Geosciences Union meeting in Vienna, explaining how his team of researchers managed to detail such a faint signature.
“It’s a really tiny magnetic field,” Olsen told BBC correspondent Jonathan Amos. “It’s about 2 – 2.5 nanotesla at satellite altitude, which is about 20,000 times weaker than Earth’s global magnetic field.”
On a fundamental level, both fields are the result of a dynamo effect produced by charged particles being sloshed around in a fluid.
The stronger magnetic field that tugs on our compass needle forms from the steady movement of molten rock deep under our feet.
This field also leaves its signature in the alignment of particles embedded in Earth’s crust, a pattern that has also been analysed in detail by Swarm
The SWLing Post Blog has recently featured a few posts on “Space Weather” & Geomagnetic Storms. As an amateur astronomer, I receive many daily space-related emails in my INBOX right along with the SWLing Post Daily Digest. I thought this might be of interest:
An unusually wide hole in the sun’s atmosphere is facing Earth and spewing a stream of solar wind toward our planet. Estimated time of arrival: April 9th. Polar geomagnetic unrest and minor G1-class storms are possible when the gaseous material reaches Earth. Visit Spaceweather.com for more information and updates.
Image credit: NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.
The hole bisects half the solar disk, stretching more than 700,000 km from end to end. This means Earth will be under the influence of the emerging solar wind stream for more than 4 days after it arrives.
A G1-class storm is “Minor”, so I doubt there will be very much “radio” impact – but you gotta admit, a hole that large is interesting nonetheless!