Thursday, 17 February 2011

EISCAT_3D

Mentioned on several occasions is the EISCAT_3D project.

The EISCAT Scientific Association operates three incoherent scatter radars in Tromsø (Norway) and on Svalbard. The UHF radar, which operates at 930 MHz, is the only tristatic incoherent scatter radar in the world. The transmitter is located in Tromsø and additional receiver sites are in Kiruna (Sweden) and Sodankylä (Finland).

However, there are ambitious plans afoot to build the next generation incoherent scatter radar, which will provide comprehensive 3D monitoring of the atmosphere and ionosphere above Northern Fenno-Scandinavia. This new radar system — called EISCAT_3D — will consist of multiple phased arrays, using the latest digital signal processing to achieve ten times higher temporal and spatial resolution than the present scientific radars. It will have pplications in a wide range of European research areas including Earth environment monitoring and technology solutions supporting sustainable development, well beyond atmospheric and space sciences.

EISCAT_3D will be a volumetric radar capable of imaging an extended spatial area with simultaneous full-vector drift velocities, having continuous operation modes, short baseline interferometry capability for imaging sub-beamwidth scales, real-time data access for applications and extensive data archiving facilities.

The design of the antenna arrays will be modular at different scales allowing for mass-production of the components. Some arrays will be very large, in the scale of 32,000 individual antenna elements. The receiver arrays will be located at 50-150 km distance from the transmitters, with some smaller arrays close by to support continuous interferometric observations. The total system will comprise approximately 100,000 elements. Construction is due to start in 2015.

KAIRA is an integral part of the EISCAT_3D development process. It will test whether or not LOFAR production items are suitable to the EISCAT_3D project, possibly leading to a mass deployment of LOFAR hardware in the far north. However, it is not the only possibility, and other array designs are being considered. One of these prototypes under evaluation is the Kiruna Demonstrator Array; there will be a web log post about this soon!

EISCAT_3D website: http://www.eiscat3d.se/

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