Hackaday Links: November 20, 2022

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Lots of space news this week, with the big story being that Artemis I finally blasted off for its trip to the Moon. It was a spectacular night launch, with the SLS sending the crew-rated but vacant — well, mostly vacant — Orion spacecraft on a week-ish long trip to the Moon, before spending a couple of weeks testing out a distant retrograde orbit. The mission is already returning some stunning images, and the main mission goal is to check out the Orion spacecraft and everything needed for a crewed Artemis II lunar flyby sometime in 2024. If that goes well, Artemis III will head up in 2025 with a crew of four to put the first bootprints on the Moon in over 50 years.

Of course, like the Apollo missions before it, a big part of the crewed landings of the Artemis program will likely be the collection and return of more lunar rock and soil samples. But NASA likes to hedge its bets, which is perhaps why they’ve announced an agreement to purchase lunar regolith samples from the first private company to send a lander to the Moon. The Japanese start-up behind this effort is called ispace, and they’ve been issued a license by the Japanese government to transfer samples collected by its HAKUTO-R lander to NASA. Or rather, samples collected on the lander — the contract is for NASA to take possession of whatever regolith accumulates on the HAKUTO-R’s landing pads. And it’s not like ispace is going to return the samples — the lander isn’t designed to ever leave the lunar surface. The whole thing is symbolic of the future of space commerce, which is probably why NASA is only paying $5,000 for the dirt.

On the slightly more expensive side, a few weeks ago the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope was having some trouble with one of its main instruments. Telemetry from MIRI, the Mid-Infrared Instrument, indicated that one of the wheels that rotate various filters into the optical path was experiencing higher-than-expected friction. Operators shut down MIRI, and while science continued on the other instruments aboard JWST, engineers looked over the telemetry data and came up with a plan to get MIRI back online. They determined that the friction is likely “increased contact forces between sub-components of the wheel central bearing assembly,” which we take to mean the filter wheel is just a little wonky. Since it only happens under certain conditions, they should be able to avoid this becoming a full-blown problem, and MIRI is slowly being returned to operation.

Bad news for KrakenSDR fans — no more passive radar for you! The five-channel coherent SDR receiver used to have a passive radar option, but an unnamed regulatory agency apparently decided that passive radar in the hands of plebes is a no-go. The KrakenRF folks are hashing it out with lawyers, but they say things aren’t looking good so far. On the plus side, they’re doing the right things and offering refunds to anyone who bought a KrakenSDR specifically for passive radar, so hats off to them for that.

And finally, passive radar depends on receiving reflections of high-powered broadcast signals off moving objects — something like the signals emanating from the 1,000,000 Watt super tower seen in this video. The acrophobic need not worry — this isn’t one of those POV videos made by a tower climber. Rather, Jeff Geerling and his dad take us on a tour of the really interesting bit: the stuff in the buildings at the foot of the tower. This particular tower hosts hundreds of customers, including several FM radio stations, and the engineering that goes into radiating that much power in a controlled manner is breathtaking. The amount of copper that went into those hardline coax sections alone is a little staggering, but those combiner boxes in the basement? Wow! We really enjoyed the fact that there’s a 50,000-Watt dummy load, too, and that it had to be mounted outdoors to save the building’s HVAC system. Really cool stuff.

15 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: November 20, 2022

  1. What country is that KrakenSDR project hosted in? I can’t imagine what U.S. law or regulation might be able to stifle the development of a pure receiver, so I can only imagine that this has to be happening somewhere else.

    1. They proactively took it down without having any threats issued by the DOD. Which is smart. If their passive radar could spot any spooky skunkworks ufos, then the project leaders might end up shooting themselves in the back of the head three times while tied up in the trunk of a car twenty miles outside of town long before any lawsuits were brought up. Many such cases. Always cracks me up when people think the US gov stopped doing this for unspecified reasons

      1. They prefer to induce mental breakdowns nowadays. Just as effective as an execution but without the legal questions. It’s done with telekinesis to induce microscopic brain tissue tears.

      2. It always cracks me up when I see people spouting such nonsense with no proof.

        Supposedly, such stuff happens and then it is covered up.

        If it is covered up, how do you know it happened?

        Hell, Snowden fled the US to avoid prison rather than a shot to the back of the head.

      1. If it’s open source… then didn’t we already have that fight over crypto? Didn’t the 9th circuit en banc decide that code is speech? Wasn’t the Supreme Court on the verge of deciding the same thing before the Clinton admin mooted the case?

  2. @Joseph Eoff: I’m pretty sure Snowden mentioned a worry he might be murdered by US operatives.
    And of course certain people have publicly and privately suggested murdering Assange. Including in meetings of government officials.

    1. Snowden is a Hero/Whistleblower. Assange and Manning are both Asshats. Their whole premise was “Oh this is Classified, lets publish it.”

      Snowden’s premise was “Hey this is literally illegal and violates the Constitution, I am going to provide enough evidence to prove it is real without providing complete details that would allow someone to exploit it or cause direct harm to the US.”

  3. Really don’t know why the Snowden, Assange,Manning topic is entering this talk thread but…
    Assange and Manning are still heroes, they made a few seriously stupid errors of judgement (you just don’t go publishing names of informants who’ve risked their lives to help in the fight against the Taliban), but their hearts are in the right place. Yes, they could have used going over their leaks properly before distribution, to remove personal names (except of high government officials who are already public figures), but that example of incompetence their doesn’t make them villains. If it did then virtually everyone in government would be in jail for similar levels of incompetence regularly displayed in all manner of situations. And given the abusive way they have both been treated, Assange is being held illegally in jail long after his actual sentence ended, they both still need all our support. As, ofcourse, do Snowden and Greenwald.

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