Ham picks up signal from China’s Tianwen-1 Mars orbiter

An amateur ham radio operator announced on February 10th that he has been able to pick up a radio transmission from China’s Tianwen-1 Mars orbiter.

As reported on Spaceweather.com, Canadian radio amateur Scott Tilley, VE7TIL, has snagged another signal from deep space. His latest conquest has been to copy the signal from China’s Tianwen-1 (pronounced “tee-EN-ven”) probe, which went into orbit around Mars on February 10. Tilley told Spaceweather.com that the probe’s X-band signal was “loud and audible.”

“It was a treasure hunt,” Tilley told Spaceweather.com. He explained that while the spacecraft did post its frequency with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), it was too vague for precise tuning (X band is between 8 GHz and 12 GHz).

What makes this detection especially interesting is that it indicates the possibility that in the somewhat near future some ham might actually be able to win the Elser-Mathes Cup. According to this article [pdf] from the national ham radio magazine QST, by the late 1920s there was a desire to create a new challenge for hams, as by then they had managed to devise methods for communicating across the entire globe.

Amid this disillusionment, [Colonel Fred Johnson Elser] visited ARRL [the national ham radio organization] and had the pleasure of meeting League co-founder and first president Hiram Percy Maxim, whose many interests included Mars. Elser reported that Maxim even owned a globe of the planet, with all of its known features demarcated.

Elser returned to his home in Manila and befriended Stanley Mathes, a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy who had been stationed in the Philippines. Based on their shared belief that Amateur Radio technology would improve at a prodigious rate, Elser and Mathes devised an award for the most ambitious Amateur Radio contact they could imagine. In honor of Hiram Percy Maxim’s love of the Red Planet, Elser and Mathes established the Elser-Mathes Cup, to be awarded for the “First Amateur Radio Two-Way Communication Earth & Mars.”

That cup has remained unclaimed since it was established in 1929, more than ninety years. The detection by Tilley above using ham equipment suggests that a winner might soon be able to lay claim to the cup. However,

Fred Elser and Stanley Mathes stipulated that the contact must be two-way, and that the transmission on the Mars end of the contact cannot be generated by a “robot.” Until we can put a ham on Mars, the Elser-Mathes Cup will go unclaimed.

As almost all astronauts are also hams, all that must happen is for an astronaut to get to Mars, land, and communicate back to Earth using ham equipment. While this will not happen soon, the possibility it will happen in the not-too-distant future is finally becoming a reality. Stay tuned.

Hat tip to ham Don Huddler N4RRT.

The Justice and FBI players under suspicion for FISA illegalities

Today there were a bunch of stories claiming that newly revealed evidence, previously buried by the FBI, proves the innocence of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and was illegally withheld from his lawyers. In addition, another bunch of recent stories have also hinted that indictments might be coming in the FBI/Justice scandal involving the illegal misuse of FISA warrants to spy on Donald Trump as well as attempt to overthrow his presidency.

The problem with all these stories is that they are based on anonymous sources, and the evidence in question remains under seal so we can’t see it.

I normally do not pay much attention to stories based on anonymous sources or rumors. Nonetheless, if indictments are coming it is also worthwhile for responsible citizens to get a handle on the players involved, including understanding why some people get indicted, when it happens. Since the entire scandal here involves almost the entire top management at both the Justice Department and the FBI during the Obama administration as well as during the first three years of the Trump administration, there are a lot of players.

Thus, I strongly advice my readers to spend some time and read this article at The Conservative Treehouse on the subject of the Mike Flynn case.

It outlines in great and very clear detail who the players have been who worked to abuse the power at the FBI and the Department of Justice, explaining their actions and positions during the entire scandal. Familiar names like John Brennan, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, James Comey, and Christopher Wray all come up. It adds however some less well known players — Dana Boente, David Bowditch, Scott Schools, David Archey — and gives us their part in the scandal, showing that they were apparently as culpable. The focus is mostly on the part that Boente played, but as the article notes in its conclusion:

There are no “good guys” in this. There are no “white hats” here. Certainly not Mueller, Rosenstein, Wray, Bowditch or Boente. Instead, this is a matrix of broad interests positioned only to benefit and sustain the status quo of the administrative state; and protect the larger community from the Trump disruption.

Even if all these individuals are not indicted, there is absolutely no justification for Trump to allow them to remain at their jobs. They should be shown the door now. You don’t need indictments to fire someone who is corrupt, and misuses his or her position.