Thursday, 21 April 2016

What a Long Strange Trip it's been

The S-9 balloon is still going strong. After travelling across the Black Sea into Turkey the GPS failed, which caused the WSPR and JT-9 modes to stop working properly as they're dependent on accurate time. Some signals were picked up although there are few WSPR receiving stations across all of Asia. Signals are mostly being picked up now by a station in Sweden and a couple of New Zealand hams, usually during grey line conditions. Here are the most recent spots of the primary WSPR signal.

This is from the WSPR reporting site.

2016-04-21 11:02VE3KCL10.140277-224ON440.02ZL1RSRF64vs11008132
2016-04-21 10:38VE3KCL10.140270-19-1ON450.02ZL1RSRF64vs11081131
2016-04-21 10:26VE3KCL10.140277-26-4ON350.02ZL2ABNRE78kv11750134
2016-04-21 10:26VE3KCL10.140273-19-4ON350.02ZL1RSRF64vs11199130
2016-04-21 00:14VE3KCL10.140265-26-4NO770.02SM0EPX/RX2JO89si4255307
2016-04-20 13:02VE3KCL10.140263-22-4MP830.02ZL1RSRF64vs13791102
2016-04-20 13:02VE3KCL10.140264-22-4MP830.02ZL1RS2RF64vt13787102
2016-04-20 13:02VE3KCL10.140267-24-4MP830.02ZL2ABNRE78kv14387105
2016-04-20 12:38VE3KCL10.140257-212MP830.02ZL1RSRF64vs13791102
2016-04-20 12:38VE3KCL10.140259-211MP830.02ZL1RS2RF64vt13787102
2016-04-20 12:38VE3KCL10.140261-232MP830.02ZL2ABNRE78kv14387105
Query time: 0.007 sec

The GPS recovered after travelling through the Middle East leading to speculation that the GPS failed due to jamming signals in the war zone. Fortunately when it woke up the following morning all was well again although tracking was unavailable through much of the day due to propagation conditions not favouring the 16 milliwatt signal.

The predictions based on winds and the next location the balloon was heard shows it crossing Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran. It was then spotted in Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, having crossed Uzbekistan whilst out of range of the receiving stations. It then spent a couple of days looping through Russia.

The latest report on the tracking web site shows that the balloon has almost crossed Mongolia and about to enter Northeastern China travelling East Southeast which might take it over North Korea or even back into Russia where it sidles down the coast East of China. The distance traveled is now more than 36,000 km and the altitude is still around 10,000 metres so there is no sign of a problem.

If the current wind speed and direction are maintained it could well be over the North Pacific on its way back to North America. I hope to pick it up on WSPR or JT9 once that happens.

1 comment:

  1. The intrepid balloon seems to have woken up. There's no update on the status page but it is showing up in WSPR. With a 4 character grid locator is appears to be near the Russian border in Northeastern China. Russia is just a narrow strip of land sandwiched between China and the Pacific ocean at this point. It was heard in both Japan and New Zealand. Looking forward to monitoring the journey into the Pacific!