Monday 24 September 2012

First international experiment

This week, KAIRA is participating for the first time in a large international experiment with baselines of several thousands of kilometres. Apart from hoping to discover some new science, this is a perfect opportunity to link EISCAT, LOFAR and, of course, KAIRA itself. As the week goes on, we will be incorporating more and more stations into this experiment network. However, on this first night of observing the following stations are involved (from North to South): 
  • ESR (EISCAT Svalbard Radar, Norway)
  • KAIRA (Kilpisjärvi Atmospheric Imaging Receiver Array, Finland)
  • Kiruna (EISCAT receiver station, Sweden)
  • SE607 (LOFAR station at Onsala, Sweden)
  • DE604 (LOFAR station at Potsdam, Germany)
  • UK608 (LOFAR station at Chilbolton, UK)
  • FR606 (LOFAR station at Nançay, France)
 Putting them on the map, the layout is as follows:

The observations are being carried out at approximately 224 MHz (thus allowing us to use the Kiruna receiver station). The ESR is at a different frequency, but is providing concurrent observing. And both KAIRA and UK608 are using special observing modes. Kiruna and the ESR are conventional, mechanically-steered, parabolic dishes. The others are all LOFAR-design phased arrays.

People often ask if KAIRA is part of the LOFAR network. The answer to this is: "not directly". Although there are plans to one day link KAIRA directly to LOFAR via a high speed link, we are currently running as an independent station. While this gives us the flexibility to pursue our own science programme, it certainly does not preclude us from participating in large, important, observing experiment — like this one.

Oh... and we should also point out that although this particular experiment is being run by ASTRON, this work is being done by ASTRON staff at the KAIRA site!

Stay tuned as the week goes on as, no doubt, we will have some very interesting things to report!

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