Friday, 13 May 2011

EISCAT Svalbard Radar

The EISCAT Scientific Association, which by the way will celebrate 30 years since the first incoherent scatter radar measurements were made at EISCAT, operates altogether three large radar systems. These are the UHF and VHF radars located on continental Northern Fenno-Scandinavia, and the newest installation, the EISCAT Svalbard Radar (ESR), which is located outside Longyearbyen on Svalbard, at 78° 09' 11" N, 16° 01' 44" E.

Inaugurated in 1996, the 500-MHz ESR initially had one fully steerable 32-metre parabolic dish antenna, which is the left antenna in the photograph above. In 1999, the fixed 42-metre antenna on the right was added. The 42-m antenna looks almost straight up, but not quite. The pointing direction is called "field-aligned," which means that the radar beam is tangential to the Earth's magnetic field at a certain altitude. The magnetic field lines in the very high latitudes are almost vertical.

The ESR has made a huge contribution to the recent International Polar Year (IPY) 2007/08. The radar operated almost continuously during this time, the only major interruption of one month being due to the Longyearbyen power station, which was not able to provide enough power to run the radar. Such a long, continuous run is highly remarkable for an incoherent scatter radar, which requires high power of typically a megawatt or more, and permanent presence of personnel.

The so-called IPY-run resulted in a fantastic data set giving a unique view of the polar ionosphere at very low solar activity and at all seasons and times of day. This data set will be the topic of a later post.

EISCAT_3D will have long-term monitoring modes, and the goal is to have it run automatically all the time.

With this photograph we wish all of you a very good weekend. Next week we will be blogging directly from the EISCAT_3D User Meeting in Uppsala.

Photo: Thomas Ulich, 9th August 2010.

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