Sunday, 14 August 2011

Crossing the Bridge — Collaboration for a Radar in Antarctica

During the past weekend of 13th and 14th August, a small workshop took place in Istanbul, Turkey, ahead of the General Assembly of the International Union of Radio Science (URSI). This special workshop sought to discuss the deployment of a movable incoherent scatter radar (ISR) in Antarctica.

The Movable Antarctic ISR (MAISR) idea came up a few years ago, as we reported recently. There are no such radars in Antarctica, and moreover almost all ISRs are located in the northern hemisphere. Some of the Antarctic bases are geomagnetically conjugate to ISR stations in the north, and thus a lot of interesting science could be done by placing a radar at these locations.

The radar is called "movable," because there are many interesting radar locations in Antarctica, but it will be hard to find funding for as many radars. The AMISR technology of our US colleagues is designed to be modular, and thus radars can be redeployed rather efficiently.

There's a lot of international interest in an Antarctic ISR, and the US funding agency behind it, the National Science Foundation (NSF), is therefore reaching out to the global ISR community. As it seems to stand at the moment, the NSF is willing to fund the large bulk of the cost, but not all of it. For the remaining part, international collaborators are invited to join to make this a truly international project.

Istanbul is a beautiful and ancient city, and it is located partly in Europe and partly in Asia. Crossing the bridge over the Bosporus, orient meets occident, western and eastern culture and traditions mix like nowhere else. The bridge and the city connect the Middle East to Europe. What a fantastic location for a workshop, that seeks to unite the diverse incoherent scatter radar communities of the world in a common endeavour: placing a radar in Antarctica.

Photo of the Bosporus Bridge by Thomas Ulich.

The title of this post is a reference to a very good documentary about the music scene in modern Istanbul: "Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul" by Fatih Akın.

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