Military officials and civilian security researchers have been warning us for years: cyberattacks are becoming a very real part of modern warfare. Far from being limited to military targets, cyberattacks can take out everything from vital public infrastructure to commercial and industrial operations, too.
In the early hours of February 24, as the Russian invasion force began raining missiles on Ukrainian cities, another attack was in progress in the digital realm. Suddenly, satellite terminals across Europe were going offline, with many suffering permanent damage from the attack.
Details remain hazy, but researchers and military analysts have pieced together a picture of what happened that night. The Great Euro Sat Hack prove to be the latest example of how vulnerable our digital infrastructure can be in wartime.
The field of space vehicle design is obsessed with efficiency by necessity. The cost to do anything in space is astronomical, and also heavily tied to launch weight. Thus, any technology or technique that can bring those figures down is prime for exploitation.
In recent years, mercury thrusters promised to be one such technology. The only catch was the potentially-ruinous environmental cost. Today, we’ll look at the benefits of mercury thrusters, and how they came to be outlawed in short order.
As part of an event called HackCYSAT, hackers were invited to attack the ESA’s OPS-SAT, a CubeSat intended to demonstrate improved techniques for mission control and more advanced satellite hardware. The computer hardware on board is ten times more powerful than other existing ESA satellites, and aims to take satellite technology on a new leap forward.
It’s a problem we all have at one time or another: your five-meter radio astronomy dish gets out of calibration and you don’t have a ridiculously expensive microwave holography rig on hand to diagnose it. OK, maybe this isn’t your problem, but when [Joe Martin]’s parabolic antenna got out of whack, he set out to diagnose and repair it, and then wrote up how he did it. You can download the PDF from his radio astronomy articles collection.
At the heart of the measurement rig is a laser rangefinder connected to a Porcupine Labs interface that passes the data on to a Pi 4. This is placed on the end of a two-degree-of-freedom servo gimbal that scans over the surface of the dish, measuring its shape. After measuring and math, [Joe] found out that it’s a little bit long here and short there, he attached two cables with turnbuckles to the front of the dish and pulled it back into shape — the sort of thing that you should probably only do if you’ve got a measurement rig already set up.
While Internet based streaming services appear to be the future of television, there are still plenty of places where it comes into the home via a cable, satellite, or antenna connection. For most satellite transmissions this now means a digital multiplex carrying a host of channels from a geostationary satellite, for which a set-top box or other decoder is required. Imagine the surprise of satellite-watchers than when the Russian polar communications satellite Meridian 9 which has a highly elliptical orbit was seen transmitting old-style terrestrial analogue TV (ThreadReader Link). What on earth was happening?
The TV signal in question comes from Turkmenistan, so were some homesick Turkmenistanis in an Antarctic base being treated to a taste of their country? The truth is far more interesting than that, because the signal in question comes from a terrestrial transmitter serving domestic TV viewers in Turkmenistan.
We’ve all heard of the idea that somehow every TV show ever transmitted is somewhere out there still traveling as radio waves across space, and while perhaps we can’t fly far enough out to check for 1960s Doctor Who episodes it’s true that the horizontal transmissions from a TV tower pass out into space as the earth curves away from them.
Thus Meridian 9 passed through the beam from the Turkmenistan transmitter which happened to be on a UHF frequency that matched one of its transponders, and the result was an unexpected bit of satellite TV. We’re indebted to the work of [@dereksgc] and [Scott Tilley] for bringing us this fascinating observation. We’ve featured [Scott]’s work before, most notably when he relocated a lost NASA craft.
When it comes to hunting down military radar installations and associated hardware, we typically think of equipment that is firmly in the price bracket of nation states and their military forces. Whether it’s early warning radar, those used for air defence, or for naval purposes, you’d think it was relatively difficult to intercept or track these emissions.
If you need evidence that our outwardly peaceful little neck of the solar system is actually a dangerous place, look no further than the 40 newly launched Starlink satellites that were just clobbered out of orbit. It seems that the SpaceX launch on February 3 was ill-timed, as it coincided with the arrival of energetic plasma from a solar storm that occurred a few days before. The coronal mass ejection followed an M-class flare on the Sun, which was aimed just right to hit just as the 49-satellite addition to the Starlink constellation was being released. This resulted in an expansion of the upper atmosphere sufficient to increase drag on the newborn satellites — up to 50% more drag than previous launches had encountered. Operators put the satellites into safe mode, but it appears that 40 of them have already met a fiery demise, or soon will. Space is a tough place to make a living.