Tech Net News 06-06-20

With a huge ceremonial platform and a complex of buildings, this ancient Maya site has been hiding in the jungle for millennia. Credit: Takeshi Inomata

Field Day is coming soon! I’ve been testing my inverters, taking inventory of my antenna supports, and running the May supply of gas out of my generator. But there’s lots more that all of us can do. Remember that the DARC still has one more virtual forum coming up on June 18th to help us get ready for Field Day on our own.

Lots of the bonus points that we used to take care of as a club are now available to you as an individual. For example, you can earn 100 points for sending a radiogram to the ARRL NTX Section Manager, and 10 points each (up to 100) for sending radiograms to your family and friends. Don’t know how? Get started at the website for our local traffic net.

The contest calendar for this week has a number of small events and a few that are a little bit larger, like the 10-10 International “Open Season” PSK Contest, the Kentucky QSO Party, and the second six-week series of the RSGB Hope QSO Party.

In news from the  world of amateur radio:

The US working group for ARISS, formerly a shared committee of the ARRL and AMSAT, has become an independent entity by incorporating in Maryland. It’s hoped that this will make it easier to apply for grants and to accept tax-deductible donations.

On a more fun note, amateurs have been reporting to the ARRL that there have been some great 6-meter band openings in the past week. Have you had a chance to get on the magic band? Don’t forget that the ARRL June VHF contest is next weekend. Get your antennas ready!

And if you’d like to try some digital contacts, WSJT-X—which offers a special FT-8 mode for Field Day—has been updated to version 2.2.0, with more decodes available to users sooner in each receive interval.

In news from the world of science:

The mole is in its burrow! No, not the troublesome mole in your backyard—the burrowing temperature probe on the Mars InSight lander has been pushed completely into its hole with help from a sampling arm on the lander. No one knows if it can still dig, but hopes are high that it will soon reach low places.

I’ve tried to avoid giving any coronavirus news on this net; there’s more than enough of that to go around. But sadly, COVID-19 is not our only pandemic, and some pandemics are worse for our non-human friends than they are for us. Biologists, conservationists, and even hunters are warning us that West Nile virus is still around, and it’s still a bit threat to our country’s birds.

Careful mapping of soil elevations has revealed the location of the oldest and largest structure built by the Maya. At about 3,000 years old and about 1.4 kilometers long, Aguada Fénix is a big place, but it’s impossible to see with the naked eye. Sophisticated LIDAR was required to understand the locations of buildings, residences, and reservoirs.

And finally, radio science has made an interesting discovery. For the first time, one of the powerful, enigmatic energy blasts known as a “fast radio burst” was observed in our galaxy this April. Its location has been traced to a type of neutron star called a magnetar. So, while we can’t be sure this is where all fast radio bursts come from, we know the source of at least some of the bursts.

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