Thursday, April 30, 2009

STEREO Reveals the Anatomy of a Solar Storm in 3D

By Donna McKinney, Naval Research Laboratory, Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Observations from NASA's twin Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft have allowed scientists to reveal for the first time the speed, trajectory, and 3-D shape of solar explosions known as coronal mass ejections, or CMEs.

CMEs are powerful eruptions of plasma and magnetic energy from the sun's outer atmosphere, or corona. When these sudden outbursts are directed toward Earth, they can have both breathtakingly beautiful and potentially damaging effects.

"We can now see a CME from the time it leaves the solar surface until it reaches Earth, and we can reconstruct the event in 3-D directly from the images," said Angelos Vourlidas, a solar physicist at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and project scientist for the NRL-led Sun Earth Connection Coronal and Heliospheric Investigation (SECCHI) aboard STEREO.

The NRL team has always been a leader in CME research, beginning with the initial discovery by an NRL-built telescope in 1971 (OSO-7). The CME phenomenon was explored in more detail by another NRL-led experiment (P78-1/Solwind) in the 1980s, resulting in the discovery of the characteristic signature (a halo) of Earth-directed CMEs, as well as the association to interplanetary shocks. Then in 1995, the NRL-led LASCO experiment was launched, with greatly increased sensitivity enabling routine observations of Earth-directed CMEs, firmly establishing the solar origin of space weather events.

"The evolution in imaging capability since the discovery in 1971 to now is just astounding. It took 44 minutes to read out the 256x256 pixel image (worse than most cell phone images), whereas now it takes a few seconds to read out the current 2048x2048 pixel image," said Russ Howard, a solar physicist at NRL and principal investigator of the LASCO and SECCHI experiments.

Until now, CMEs were observed near the sun but the next measurements had to wait until the CME arrived at Earth three to seven days later. STEREO's ability to continuously image a CME from its explosive birth to arrival at Earth is the first time this has been achieved and represents a significant advance. Three-dimensional tracking of an evolving CME is critical to determining its structure and predicting if and how it will affect Earth.

STEREO consists of two nearly identical observatories that make simultaneous observations of CMEs from two different vantage points. One observatory "leads" Earth in its orbit around the sun, while the other observatory "trails" the planet.

"The larger the separation between the spacecraft, the larger the structures we can examine," said Vourlidas.

Using the SECCHI telescopes, solar physicists can examine a CME's structure, velocity, mass, and direction in the corona and track it through interplanetary space. Such measurements can help determine when a CME will reach Earth, at what speed and how much energy it will deliver to Earth's magnetosphere.

CMEs carry billions of tons of plasma into space at thousands of miles per hour. This plasma — which carries some of the magnetic field from the corona with it — can create a large, moving disturbance in space that also produces a shock wave. The shock can accelerate some of the surrounding particles to high energies, a form of "solar cosmic rays" that can be hazardous to spacecraft and astronauts. The shock and CME material, which arrive days later, can produce disruptive space weather during and following their interaction with Earth's magnetosphere and upper atmosphere.

The seriousness of the effects depends on the size and speed of the CME when it arrives at Earth. These sun storms can interfere with communications between ground controllers and satellites, pilots flying near Earth's poles and astronauts on the International Space Station. Radio noise from the storm can also disrupt cell phone service. Disturbances in the ionosphere related to CMEs can affect Global Positioning System navigation and, in extreme cases, induced currents in long cables and transformers on the ground can cause power outages.

The STEREO mission employs two nearly identical observatories to provide 3-D measurements of the sun to study the nature of coronal mass ejections. STEREO is the third mission in NASA's Solar Terrestrial Probes program.

Story at

NASA story at

NASA Gives a Go for for Hubble Service Mission

To help you monitor this Space Shuttle mission and other NASA communications you can download our exclusive Monitoring NASA and Space Shuttle Communications document at

NASA managers completed a review Thursday of space shuttle Atlantis’ readiness for flight and selected an official launch date for the STS-125 mission to upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope. Commander Scott Altman and his six crewmates are scheduled to lift off at 2:01 p.m. EDT (1801 UTC), May 11, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Atlantis’ launch date was announced following Thursday’s Flight Readiness Review. During the meeting, top NASA and contractor managers assessed the risks associated with the mission and determined the shuttle’s equipment, support systems and procedures are ready for flight.

Atlantis’ 11-day mission will include five spacewalks to refurbish Hubble with state-of-the-art science instruments. After the astronauts’ visit, the telescope’s capabilities will be expanded and its lifetime extended through at least 2014.

Commander Altman will be joined on the mission by Pilot Gregory C. Johnson and Mission Specialists Andrew Feustel, Michael Good, John Grunsfeld, Megan McArthur and Mike Massimino. The spacewalkers are Feustel, Good, Grunsfeld and Massimino. McArthur is the flight engineer and lead for robotic arm operations.

For more information about the STS-125 crew and its mission, visit:

For more information about the Hubble Space Telescope, visit:

Monday, April 27, 2009

2009 Hurricane Op Plan Available

You can get the official Department of Commerce/NOAA National Hurricane Operations Plan for 2009 at

As always, as the season progresses and the need arises, this blog and it's sister blog the Milcom Monitoring Post at will carry the latest frequency information as it relates to each storm. Don't reply on old outdated list and frequencies that are no longer valid, get the best right here at the BTown Monitoring Post.

It is a prank only -- CA County Opposes Ham Radio

There is a big time rumor circulating on the Internet via email and newsgroups that the San Luis Obispo county supervisors had passed an ordinance banning ham radio.

According to the ARRL newsletter:

"The California county of San Luis Obispo was notified by the Federal Communications Commission Wednesday, April 8 of a rumor on an Internet group site stating that the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance on March 31 which would ban Amateur Radio operators -- commonly known as ham radio operators -- from operating their transmitting stations. The rumor is posted as an alleged news story from a non-existent Los Angeles news publisher. The story alleges that the purpose of this false action by the Board was due to supposed interference caused by ham radio transmitters, among other reasons. The article has an online posting date of April 1, 2009."

I will not reprint the article here on this blog so that it can be further distributed on the net and promoting this myth but the whole story is a myth and has been fabricated by a prankster as an April Fool joke. Literally within 10 seconds of reading the email I received I had Googled the truth. Please do not pass this one around. At best it is spam and I consider such messages like a virus that is passed one computer to another.

The truth can be found at or at

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Capitol radio system could cost $100M

Surprise, surprise. Just another example of how this U.S. government has gone nuts with spending. There are simplier solutions, but then again this is the imperial U.S. government and when you have an endless trough of money to spend . . .

I love Peter S' comment on this and he hits the nail directly on the head.

"crashes sometimes - has dead spots - can be monitored by store bought scanners after they spend $100M same ole same ole, Note - Capitol PD uses 166 Mhz now - DCPD use UHF TRS - FD uses 800Mhz TRS - maybe if they throw up a couple of BDAs they can use theDCFD TRS for free - hey, I just saved $100M - just give me 10% of it."

How how about you feds ponying up and buying some radios and use the DCPD TRS system. Then you might get some interoperability! In fact, maybe i can get DHS to send over some of their interoperability coloring books to the Capitol Hill PD and then we can all learn to work together.

You bunch of big dummies. Another fleecing of the US taxpayers.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tyco Electronics Sells Its Wireless Systems Business to Harris Corporation

Tyco Electronics Ltd. today (April 16) announced that the company has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its Wireless Systems business to Harris Corporation for $675 million in cash, subject to final working capital adjustments. Wireless Systems is a leader in the development of large-scale critical communications systems based on Internet Protocol (IP) technology for customers in the public safety, utility, transit and public service industries. The business generated sales of $461 million in fiscal 2008.

According to Tyco Electronics Chief Executive Officer Tom Lynch, "The sale of the Wireless Systems business will increase our focus on our core connectivity business and substantially completes the streamlining of our portfolio that we began two years ago. Wireless Systems is an ideal fit for Harris, whose size, resources and experience in the communications industry should help position the business for accelerated growth."

The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the summer of 2009. Tyco Electronics will report the results of the Wireless Systems business as a discontinued operation beginning with its fiscal third quarter, ending June 26, 2009.

And from Harris:

Harris Corporation (NYSE:HRS), an international communications and information technology company, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the Tyco Electronics Wireless Systems business (formerly known as M/A-COM), an established provider of mission-critical wireless communications systems for law enforcement, fire and rescue, and public service organizations.

Tyco Electronics Wireless Systems, a business segment of Tyco Electronics Ltd. (NYSE:TEL; BSX:TEL), was formed in 1999 and grew through the acquisition of ComNet Ericsson in 2001 to create Tyco Electronics Wireless Systems ("Wireless Systems"). Wireless Systems will be combined with the Harris RF Communications business segment, creating a dynamic new organization that will provide end-to-end wireless network solutions to the growing $9 billion global land mobile radio systems market.

"The combination of RF Communications and Wireless Systems creates a powerful supplier in the global land mobile radio systems market," said Howard L. Lance, chairman, president and CEO of Harris. "With an 80-year heritage in providing communications for the public safety market, Wireless Systems has established a large installed customer base, extensive domain knowledge, and well-developed sales channels, which serve the federal, state, and local public safety markets. Wireless Systems provides complete end-to-end infrastructure solutions, including IP-based voice and data networks, which support multiple platforms and provide interoperability among disparate systems. Harris RF Communications offers industry-leading radio technology, including the latest in software-defined multiband radios for interoperability and upgradeability, high-level encryption capable of supporting top secret communications, and digital waveform technology. In addition, Harris brings to the new partnership access to well-established business channels for the Department of Defense, U.S. federal agencies, and international customers."

Under the definitive agreement, Harris will purchase the Wireless Systems assets of Tyco Electronics for $675 million in cash, subject to post-closing adjustments. The goodwill arising on completion of the acquisition will be an allowable tax expense with an estimated net present value of $60 million, resulting in an effective purchase price of $615 million. The transaction excludes the State of New York wireless network contract awarded to Wireless Systems in December 2004. Wireless Systems' revenue for the fiscal year ending September 26, 2008, was $463 million, and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) was $86 million. The acquisition is expected to be slightly accretive to Harris earnings in fiscal 2010, excluding acquisition-related charges, and a significant contributor to earnings in fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2012. Morgan Stanley acted as the financial advisor to Harris, while Jones Day provided legal advice.

Wireless Systems is headquartered in Lowell, Massachusetts, with product development and manufacturing facilities in Lynchburg, Virginia, and has approximately 1,150 employees, including 500 engineers and scientists. Principal end-markets for the business include public safety and public service, federal government, transit and transportation, and utilities. End-to-end solutions include network systems and software solutions; mobile and portable radio equipment; broadband WiMAX products for high speed-data applications; and operations, service and maintenance. The business is a key player in the wireless communications standards process, successfully driving its products to open standards in both U.S. and international markets, including the next-generation digital APCO P25 standard.

Wireless Systems will operate as a business unit under the Harris RF Communications segment, headquartered in Rochester, New York. Chuck Dougherty will continue to serve as president of Wireless Systems and will report to Dana Mehnert, president of RF Communications.

"This acquisition greatly accelerates our entry into the land mobile radio systems market and creates a significant opportunity for growth in both North American and international markets," said Mehnert. "Complementary distribution channels will provide Harris with immediate access to state and local government markets for our new UnityT family of multiband radios and will expand the reach for Wireless Systems infrastructure and single-band radios to the Department of Defense, U.S. federal agencies, and international customers. We look forward to delivering a new level of capability and value and bringing industry-leading customer service and support to this market by leveraging the nationwide Harris IT Services workforce."

"Reliable, secure voice and data communications are essential to first responders and government agencies entrusted with ensuring the public's health and safety," said Dougherty. "We have successfully deployed over 500 systems worldwide. Integrating our products, systems, technologies and market channels with Harris will allow our combined businesses to bridge the interoperability gap and unite public safety responders at all levels of state, local and federal government."

Thursday, April 09, 2009

NDB Decommissioned

For my NDB monitoring friends:

CWI - MHW NDB Clinton IA on 377 kHz has been decommissioned as of 4/1/2009.
BPW - MHW NDB Osceola AR on 239 kHz has been decommissioned as of 4/3/2009.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


I have had several request by monitors regarding the frequencies used by the ARINC VHF Radio Network. So the map below which you can download has all the freqs used nationwide. I always have the freqs in my area programmed in my scanner and have some very interesting comms from time to time.