AE Current Events

Per CAPP-15, the squadron AEO, "conducts weekly updates of AE current events."

These current events will be updated prior to each MAWG Wing Staff meeting (normally held first Wednesday of the month).  Please feel free to use them at your own units, and forward any interesting current events you might have to
me to include here.

The following are current events for the May 2020 staff meeting:

1.  Don’t fire an RPG if there are drones around:  A C-130 had just made an aerial supply drop (unknown what country this was in, but likely the Middle East) when it was fired upon by “bad guys” with a Rocket-Powered Grenade (RPG).  This was all caught by on camera by an MQ-9 Reaper drone flying “top cover” for the C-130.  Fortunately, the RPG missed the C-130, but the Reaper operators alerted the Joint Terminal Attack Controller, who approved them to “prosecute” the target.

2.  Araceibo-like telescope to be built on far side of the Moon:  NASA has funded a proposal to build a radio telescope in a crater on the far side of the Moon.  This would make it similar to Araceibo, the 1000’-diameter telescope in Puerto Rico that’s built into a natural bowl-shaped terrain.  By building this over telescope on the far side (over a half-mile in diameter), astronomers would be able to get observations without radio interference from the Earth.

3.  Drones enforce social distancing:  As more states implement physical-distancing restrictions, police departments have been finding it difficult to enforce the regulations.  In Savannah, GA, the police have been using drones to fly over areas where crowds are gathering, and the drones broadcast a message reminding people to keep at least 6’ apart.  Police departments in several other cities are taking similar actions.

4.  Possible Earth-like planet found:  Scientists examining data from the Kepler satellite (which is no longer active, but scientists are still examining its data) have found an Earth-sized planet in the “Goldilocks Zone” (at the right distance from its star that it’s not too hot and not too cold to support liquid water).  The planet, Kepler-1649c, orbits a red dwarf (much cooler than our Sun), but because its orbit is so close (it orbits the star in fewer than 20 days!), the planet is warm enough to support liquid water.

5.  Aircraft avionics manufacturers need to think about cyber-security:  although most avionics manufacturers have been following guidelines over the past few years, the EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the FAA are both moving to mandate them as standards.  These will help protect avionics that are connected to the internet from hackers.  These standards would also apply to other systems such as radar altimeters, GPS, and military IFF (Identify Friend-or-Foe).

6.  Comet may be visible to naked eye:  Comet SWAN (C/2020 F8), discovered by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory satellite, has been brightening steadily in the pre-dawn skies.  By mid-May, when it passes only around 53-million miles from Earth, it may be as bright as magnitude 3.5 (about 1/6 the brightness of Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo).

7.  FAA to reduce hours at about 100 Air-Traffic-Control towers:  With the COVID-19 pandemic greatly reducing the number of commercial flights, the FAA is reducing the hours at many ATC towers.  It’s basing its decisions on how much traffic is at each airport during proposed “off hours,” infrastructure capabilities, etc.  It should be noted that commercial (as well as General Aviation) flights can continue to land at those airports even if controllers are not present – the airport reverts to a “non-towered” status during those times.

Shelley Rosenbaum-Lipman,
May 17, 2020, 2:05 PM