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Surfin’: Tracking the Dead Zone


By Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
Contributing Editor

This week (and next), hams can participate in an International Space Station experiment to test a spacecraft propulsion technology’s effects on RF.

This weekend and next, hams will have an opportunity to participate in an experiment that will test the viability of Electronic Thrust (ET) onboard a spacecraft.

It seems that the highly ionized exhaust plumes of ET may scatter RF signals, resulting in a large radio communications “dead zone.” To learn more about the dead zone, the International Space Station (ISS) will conduct an experiment on the ISS 145.825 MHz FM AX.25 1200 bps packet radio downlink.

Using the AX.25 packets transmitted by “Master Stations” and reported by receiving ham radio ground stations, the experiment will attempt to track the effect of the dead zone to evaluate the shape of previously observed dead zones or shadowing due to the firing of an onboard arcjet plasma source.

November 25-28 and December 2-5 are the dates of the experiment and each participant will receive a special certificate.

The Space Plasma Experiment “Shadow” on board the International Space Station with Participation of Radio Amateurs website details the experiment, as well as information on how you can participate.

Thank you, Steve Bible, N7HPR, for the heads-up about the experiment. You can also read about it on the ARRL website here.

Until next time, keep on surfin’!

Editor’s note: Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, likes the unusual in radio. To contact Stan, send e-mail or add comments to the WA1LOU blog.



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