Fall 2019 Solar Outage Season

Back to top

This is a reminder that the Fall 2019 Solar Outage season begins September 28 and will run through October 15. 

A solar or sun transit outage is an electromagnetic phenomenon wherein a station downlink is temporarily unable to receive a satellite signal due to interference from the sun as it passes behind the satellite. Solar outages occur on a predictable schedule and affect downlinks in the U.S. for about five consecutive days, for as many as six minutes a day, twice each year. 

We encourage stations and producers to take the following steps in preparation for solar outages in your region:

  • Producers: program producers of episodes scheduled to transmit during the outage season are encouraged to make sure their content is loaded on a timely basis. Posting evergreen episodes of live programs will give stations programming options during the outages in their regions.
  • Stations: stations should consider operational requirements during the predicted outage duration for their area and download content as provided by program producers.

The PRSS has a calendar of outages for each station and region of the United States. To obtain solar outage information for your location, go to http://prss.org/tools-and-resources and click on your state or territory in the pull-down menu below. Clicking on "Any" will provide dates and times for all locations.

The rules that apply to all solar outages can be found here: http://prss.org/solar-outage-rules 

For stations who are broadcasting live stream programming from the ContentDepot, we are able to offer alternative routing arrangements:

  1. We will be providing Internet-delivered streams of ContentDepot streams 1-20. These streams will be delivered at 128 kbps stereo in the mp3 format. They will contain no cueing information. The audio will be subject to any latency delays that may exist. Stations choosing this option would need to be able to route audio from a local computer into the audio console. Windows Media Player or QuickTime can be used to play back the audio from the computer, as two examples. 
  2. We have a limited number of ISDN codecs that can be used to feed streamed programs back to stations. These, too, are configured for 128 kbps stereo at mp3 and contain no cueing information. 

Users of the internet streaming system for solar outages will not be charged, but will be required to restrict their usage to only those time windows when their local service is affected. The url for the required program will be provided when the request is made.

Users of the ISDN option should be aware that it is strictly first-come, first-served and is pre-emptable in the event the NOC needs an ISDN codec to restore an inbound audio stream meant for transmission to the entire network. It is the station's responsibility to dial into the assigned codec in the NOC and pay for the ISDN connect charges. The ISDN dial-in numbers will be provided when the request is made and scheduled.

Stations requiring assistance for alternate routing will need to contact the PRSS Help Desk. We will need to know the specifics of the requirement: dates, times, and which program is desired. 

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please contact the PRSS Help Desk at 800.971.7677 or prsshelp@npr.org.

Posted: September 28, 2019