Shortwave Radiogram 11 March 2018, 2330 UTC

Welcome to program 38 of Shortwave Radiogram.

I’m Kim Andrew Elliott in Arlington, Virginia USA.

Here is the lineup for today’s program, all in MFSK32:

1:36 Program preview (now)
2:44 Clocks in Europe affected by power grid irregularities*
11:16 Odd and amazing cyclones at Jupiter’s poles*
16:53 Goodyear’s photosynthesizing concept tire*
22:16 MFSK image enhancement experiment*
25:00 Closing experiments

* with image(s)

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Twitter: @SWRadiogram

From Deutsche Welle:

Clocks in Europe are running late because of the Kosovo conflict

7 March 2017
Fabian Schmidt

Clock radios and timers on microwaves and stoves have gotten out
of sync in Europe in recent weeks. The reason: Coordination
problems between the power grid operators of Kosovo and Serbia.

Since mid January power companies in Kosovo and Serbia have
failed to mutually balance their electricity grids in the case of
irregularities. According to the grid codes of the European
Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity
(ENTSO-E), they are obliged to maintain a mean frequency of 50
hertz (oscillations per second) and help each other out if

But in reality, the mean frequency was lower most of this year.
The reason: The operators did not talk to each other. This
resulted in power deficits of the larger regional grid control
area Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, also known as the “SSM

Lower frequency means less energy

All in all the, frequency deviations amount to the equivalent of
113 Gigawatt hours (GWh) in lost energy. That is roughly the
daily production of a larger scale brown coal power plant.

There are 36 member states in ENTSO-E with interconnected power
grids, ranging from Spain to Norway and from Turkey to the
British Isles. The recent reductions of the frequencies have
affected 25 of the member-states.

This resulted in a situation in which clocks which are dependent
on the power grid, such as clock radios or clocks built into home
appliances like stoves or stereo systems, have lost time. Since
the beginning of the problems in January it has amounted to
roughly six minutes.

Better to lose six minutes than suffer a blackout

To maintain the required frequency of 50 Hertz, the electricity
grid uses a primary control. This is a technical mechanism which
makes sure that power deviations will be quickly balanced by
drawing additional energy from batteries or other sources in
neighboring power grids – until additional power plants have been
activated and reached their full power levels.

If balancing doesn’t work, a five-step plan takes effect: If the
frequency drops below 49.8 hertz, the first step takes effect,
and additional primary regulation sources must be activated.

If that isn’t enough to stabilize the network, operators may have
to disconnect selected consumers or parts of the grid. In the
fifth step, when the frequency drops below 47.5 hertz, a total
blackout can occur.

A continuous frequency decline, as we’re seeing now, had never
previously happened in the joint European grid.

“I don’t know of any other case where a partner has not met the
rules over a longer period of time,” says Christian Rehtanz, a
professor at the Institute for Energy Systems at the Technical
University of Dortmund. “The situation is new and needs to be

Rehtanz says he could imagine separate areas of the grid having
to be disconnected – but he also warns of the consequences.

“The dilemma is that we should not risk triggering a blackout in
any region. On the other hand, the political actions of some
should not endanger the secure operation of the whole system.”

A technical, but also political, problem

ENTSO-E has called on its member states to solve the problem with
urgency, both in a technical and a political sense. Some states
should not be put into a position where they have to provide
“primary regulation energy” (the energy used to balance short
term irregularities in the system) over a longer period of time
in order to compensate for regional deficits.

But, there is no reason for panic, either. Frequency deviations
of up to one percent (49.5 to 50.5 hertz) for up to 44 hours per
year are normal, says Jutta Jansen. She’s a professor of electric
power supply with renewable energies at the Technical University
of Darmstadt. “This shows that the frequent but minimal
deviations we’ve seen recently do not appear critical for
operating the power grid.”

And the fact that the clocks are running late is “an unpleasant,
but not really dangerous, situation,” she says. In the long run,
the lost time could actually be compensated for by raising the
frequency again slightly above 50 hertz.

So maybe it’s better to wait before resetting your clock –
otherwise, you might have to set it back again later.

See also:

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From Ars Technica

Scientists find odd and amazing cyclones at Jupiter’s poles

Eric Berger
7 March 2018

Scientists studying data from NASA’s Juno spacecraft have
published a trove of papers in Nature this week, making a number
of intriguing and surprising findings about the atmosphere of the
largest planet in our Solar System. The papers are summarized and
linked in this NASA news release.

Some of the most striking discoveries come from visible and
infrared observations made by Juno during its first five science
passes in its elongated orbit around Jupiter. (The spacecraft
entered Jupiter’s orbit on July 4, 2016. It will make its 11th
pass on April 1.) In these initial passes, scientists found
clusters of strange and long-lasting cyclones orbiting the north
and south poles of Jupiter.

At the north pole, eight persistent, polygon-shaped cyclones were
observed around a single polar cyclone. In the south, five storms
circled a single cyclone. Scientists confirmed the circulation of
these storms through time-lapse imagery. The northern storms,
measuring 4,000 to 4,600km in diameter, are smaller than the
southern hemisphere storms, which are 5,600 to 7,000km in

Normally, scientists would expect these cyclones to migrate
toward the pole due to the Coriolis beta effect, in which
vortices in a fluid would naturally drift toward the pole.
However, on Jupiter, these vortices have persisted and not
drifted substantially or merged during Juno’s initial
observations. This has surprised scientists, because the polar
cyclones are so densely packed, with the spiral arms of each one
coming into contact with its neighbors.

They should be pushing and pulling at one another and merging as
a result. “The question is, why do they not merge?” said Alberto
Adriani, Juno co-investigator from the Institute for Space
Astrophysics and Planetology, Rome, and lead author of the paper.
“We know with Cassini data that Saturn has a single cyclonic
vortex at each pole. We are beginning to realize that not all gas
giants are created equal.”

As the researchers note, “The configuration of the cyclones is
without precedent on other planets.” NASA scientists are now
trying to model the atmospheric conditions under which such
features might form and persist in the Jovian atmosphere. More
data from future Juno passes by Jupiter will certainly help.

See also:

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From New Atlas:

Goodyear goes green in Geneva with photosynthesizing concept tire

Nick Lavars
6 March 2018

For the last few years, Goodyear has rolled into the Geneva Motor
Show with new tire designs that could be described as intriguing
concepts at best and crazy, outlandish ideas at worst. Either
way, they do provoke thought around the future of transport and
this year’s rendition is no different, hiding living moss inside
the sidewall to cleanse the surrounding air as the car rolls down
the road.

Goodyear’s earlier concepts have included tires that convert heat
and motion into an electrical current, a spherical tire that
enables cars to drive sideways, and another spherical version
that incorporates artificial intelligence.

The newly announced Oxygene won’t spin sideways, but it will
harvest energy through photosynthesis. It inhales C02 from the
air and moisture from the road, feeding a living moss in its
sidewall and releasing oxygen into the air. The way Goodyear sees
it, in a city the size of Paris with 2.5 million vehicles on the
road, a society-wide adoption of the Oxygene tire would create
3,000 tons of oxygen and soak up more than 4,000 tons of C02 a

What’s more, the tire would also capture energy generated during
photosynthesis and use it to power electronics inside it, such as
onboard sensors, a customizable safety light, and an artificial
intelligence processing unit. It would also use Li-Fi to hook up
with the Internet of Things and talk to other cars and road
infrastructure. The tread would be 3D-printed using rubber powder
from recycled tires.

This thing is never going to make it onto the road, at least not
in its current form – scientists have been trying to draw
meaningful amounts of energy from artificial photosynthesis for
decades, for example – but take it for what it is, a thought
experiment in how we might move people around cities in cleaner,
more environmentally ways, and it is certainly an interesting

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Next on Shortwave Radiogram, our MFSK image enhancement

The experiment was designed by Mark Braunstein, WA4KFZ.

Complete details are available at

Basically, the experiment involved transmitting an MFSK32 image
at normal speed, then at half speed.

Please record the image transmitted at half speed, then play it
back at full speed.

If you use the Audacity software, use Effect > Change Speed >
Percent Change: 100

After you have decoded both the images transmitted at normal
speed and at half speed converted to normal speed, compare them
for quality.

Please report your results, attaching the images if possible, to

Next, the image transmitted at normal speed …

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Now, the image transmitted at half speed …

(wasn’t fast enough, I was getting a beer)

Transmission of Shortwave Radiogram is provided by:

WRMI, Radio Miami International,


Space Line, Bulgaria,

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And visit

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I’m Kim Elliott. Please join us for the next Shortwave

Best NOAA Satellite “How To” That I’ve Been Able to Find.

I think you need to take a look at this if  you’re looking for that first SDR project.

Here’s some of my favorite.  This is with rabbit ears.  My first quadrifilar was a colossal failure.  But I’m working on it.


Shortwave Radio Broadcast 19 Feb 2018, 0800 UTC


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Here’s a new plan for finding life on other planets

Barbara Moran
14 February 2018

Instead of looking for water as a sign of life on distant
exoplanets, scientists should instead look at an exoplanet’s
ionosphere, the thin uppermost layer of atmosphere.

For decades, astronomers have been searching these distant
exoplanets for signs of life, mostly looking for that most
essential molecule, water. But Michael Mendillo and his
colleagues have a different idea: search for an ionosphere like
our own planet’s.

Find an ionosphere like Earth’s, they say, packed with single
oxygen ions, and you have found life. Or, at least, life as we
know it.

On January 9, 1992, astronomers announced a momentous discovery
two planets orbiting a pulsar 2,300 light years from our sun. The
two planets, later named Poltergeist and Draugr, were the first
confirmed “exoplanets” — worlds outside our solar system, circling
a distant star.

Scientists now know of 3,728 (confirmed) exoplanets in 2,794
systems, each one begging the question: “Is anyone else out

“What more important question could we ask? Are we alone?” asks
Mendillo, professor of astronomy at Boston University. “I don’t
know of any more fascinating question in science.”

‘A great adventure’

“Throughout the history of human civilization, we have never
gotten to the point — until basically the last 15 years — where we
could see planets around other stars. And now we’re at the point
where we’re coming up with ideas to discover life outside Earth,”
says John Clarke, professor of astronomy at Boston University,
and director of the Center for Space Physics. “This is a great
intellectual adventure that we’re on.”

Their work began when Mendillo and associate astronomy professor
Paul Withers received a grant from the National Science
Foundation to compare all planetary ionospheres in the solar
system. (All the planets have them except Mercury, which is so
close to the sun that its atmosphere is stripped off entirely.)
Simultaneously, the team was also working with NASA’s MAVEN
mission, trying to understand how the molecules that made up
Mars’ ionosphere had escaped that planet.

Since the early years of the Space Age, scientists have known
that planetary ionospheres differ greatly, and the research team
started to focus on why that was the case, and why Earth’s was so
different. While other planets stuff their ionospheres full of
complicated charged molecules arising from carbon dioxide or
hydrogen, Earth keeps it simple, with mostly oxygen filling the
space. And it’s a specific type of oxygen—single atoms with a
positive charge.

“I started thinking, how come our ionosphere is different than
the other six?” recalls Mendillo.

The team ticked off numerous possibilities for Earth’s high
concentration of O+ before settling on a culprit: green plants
and algae.

“It’s because we have this atomic oxygen that traces its origin
back to photosynthesis,” says Mendillo. “We have atomic oxygen
ions, O+, in the ionosphere as a direct consequence of having
life on the planet. So why don’t we see if we can come up with a
criterion where the ionosphere could be a biomarker, not just of
possible life but of actual life.”

Oxygen: ‘a perilous beast’

Most planets in our solar system have some oxygen in their lower
atmospheres, but Earth has much more, about 21 percent. This is
because so many organisms have been busy turning light, water,
and carbon dioxide into sugar and oxygen—the process called
photosynthesis—for the past 3.8 billion years.

“Destroy all the plants on Earth and our atmosphere’s oxygen will
vanish away in mere thousands of years,” says Withers, who notes
that all this oxygen exhaled by plants doesn’t just stick around
the Earth’s surface. “To most people, O2, the oxygen we breathe,
is not a very exciting molecule. To chemists, however, O2 is a
wild, exhilarating, and perilous beast. It just will not sit
still; it chemically reacts with almost any other molecule it can
find and it does so very quickly.”

On Earth today, excess oxygen molecules, in the form of O2, float
upward. When the O2 gets about 150 kilometers above the Earth’s
surface, ultraviolet light splits it in two. The single oxygen
atoms float higher, into the ionosphere, where more ultraviolet
light and x-rays from the sun rip electrons from their outer
shells, leaving charged oxygen zipping through the air. The
abundance of O2 near the Earth’s surface—so different than the
other planets—leads to an abundance of O+ high in the sky.

This finding, says Mendillo, suggests that scientists seeking
extraterrestrial life could perhaps narrow their search area. PhD
candidate Paul Dalba, who was working on exoplanet atmospheres
with assistant professor of astronomy Philip Muirhead, joined the
team to weigh in.

“Dalba’s knowledge of star-exoplanet systems really helped,”
Mendillo says.


The researchers report their findings in the journal Nature

Source: Boston University

Full text:

Here’s a new plan for finding life on other planets


Image: The search for extraterrestrial life has focused mostly on
exoplanets like Kepler-186f, shown here …

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Astronomers image 40-light-year-wide space donut

Michael Irving
15 February 2018

The supermassive black holes lurking at the centers of galaxies
have been known to chow down on anything unlucky enough to pass
too close, but the opportunity to see that in action rarely
occurs at the Milky Way’s quiet core. Now, astronomers using the
Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) observatory
in Chile have imaged a very active black hole at the center of
spiral galaxy M77, which is apparently feasting on the universe’s
largest donut.

The heart of M77 is what’s known as an active galactic nucleus
(AGN), meaning that gas and matter is constantly being sucked
into the central black hole and giving off intense light. These
active regions in the universe could help unlock the mysteries of
how galaxies and the supermassive black holes at their cores
develop in tandem.

Apart from the occasional spectacle, our own galactic center
isn’t very active, so astronomers need to look further away to
find those clues. The team, made up of researchers from the
National Observatory of Japan, SOKENDAI and Kagoshima University,
used ALMA to image M77’s galactic nucleus.

The team spotted a compact gaseous structure, resembling a
gigantic donut, surrounding the black hole. The cloud stretches
some 20 light-years out from the center, and is spinning around
the black hole. The existence of these spinning torus structures
has been hypothesized for decades, but according to the
researchers, this marks the first time one has been directly

“To interpret various observational features of AGNs, astronomers
have assumed rotating donut-like structures of dusty gas around
active supermassive black holes,” says Masatoshi Imanishi, lead
author on a paper describing the find. “This is called the
‘unified model’ of AGN. However, the dusty gaseous donut is very
tiny in appearance. With the high resolution of ALMA, now we can
directly see the structure.”

The resolution of ALMA’s images can’t hog all the credit for the
discovery. The researchers say it was also important to focus on
specific molecular emission lines, and microwave emissions were
detected from hydrogen cyanide (HCN) molecules and formyl ions
(HCO+). Since these molecules only emit microwaves in dense gas,
it tells the team a lot about the donut’s density.

But there’s more to the story. The researchers say that the torus
isn’t spinning perfectly in line with the black hole’s gravity –
instead, there’s a high degree of randomness to its motion. That
implies a violent past, which may have involved a collision with
a smaller galaxy.

The research was published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.


Image: An artist’s rendition of the gigantic donut of gas that
surrounds the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy
M77 …

rmos tewneirtn
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At the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Perrine Lafont of
France, who won gold in the women’s moguls …

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Transmission of Shortwave Radiogram is provided by:

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I’m Kim Elliott. Please join us for the next Shortwave


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