Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Greenland: The Sondrestrom Radar

Finally, at the end of the first day of the International Incoherent Scatter Radar Workshop here at Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, it was time to visit The Radar! The Sondrestrom radar cannot be seen from Kangerlussuaq. It is located about 15 km to the west and away from the fjord in a small valley. The location is called Kellyville, after John Kelly who was responsible for placing the radar here.

The radar, which is operated by the Center for Geospace Studies of SRI International, was originally built in California and located at Stanford. It was later moved to Chatanika, Alaska to become a tool for studying the aurora. Later, when EISCAT was established in the auroral zone in Northern Europe, it was decided to move the radar to higher latitudes into the polar cap. Kangerlussuaq was chosen due to its accessibility: a US Air Force base had been established in 1941, and a small harbour had been built. The radar was moved from Chatanika to Kangerlussuaq in 1982, which created the Sondrestrom Research Facility.

By the way, if you click on the location link at the bottom of this post, you can see a map of the area. In fact if you select the satellite view, you can see an aerial photograph of the radar.

On our first visit to the radar, the site crew hosted all 63 of us for a very nice evening reception including some local food. They were kind enough to let us look around freely inside and around the site buildings and answered our questions. Also, the radar was scanning the sky and we could witness the fantastic sight of this 32-m dish moving. And moving it does: mounted on a former mount of a gun from a US Navy cruiser, it moves impressively fast.

A special Thank You to Eggert, Henrik, Ulla and John for hosting us for a great evening!

Photos: Thomas Ulich.

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