Before there was Twitter...before there was Facebook or MySpace...
before there was the Internet, even!...
People communicated with one another, broke big news, shared info and ideas—all through amateur radio!
Today is the 87th anniversary of the founding of the International Amateur Radio Union – and today's celebration has the theme “Radio Satellites: Celebrating 50 Years in Space.” Amateur radio itself has been in existence for more than a century.
Another term for “amateur radio” is “ham radio.” Ham radio operators use a variety of voice, text, image, and data communications modes and can get in touch with others across the city, across the world, or even in space!
Apparently there have been amateur radio satellites in orbit around the Earth since late 1961 (hence the “50 years in space”), and ham radio enthusiasts can contact the satellites with even hand-held transceivers and regular factory antenna. Hams can use the moon, the aurora borealis, and even meteor trails as reflectors of radio waves, and they can contact the International Space Station. Many astronauts and cosmonauts are licensed amateur radio operators!
Here is a video about ham radio on the Space Station.
Of course, many of us contact satellites in space multiple times a day, because we use cell phones now. (I've never chatted with an astronaut in space, though!) Apparently ham radio can help people stay in touch in areas that aren't so easy with cell phones. When traveling out of the area covered by your cell phone service, such as a foreign country, and when talking to other within 30 miles in mountainous or remote areas that don't have good cell phone coverage, you can stay in touch with family and friends using amateur radio. Here is an article that discusses some of the reasons you might want to get a ham radio license—and how to get it, too!
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