Friday 20 September 2013

SGO 100 -- The last half century

The sixties and early seventies were a period of intense expansion. In 1962 and 1964, new buildings were constructed for the ionospheric station. Riometers were installed at SGO in 1963 to study the lower ionosphere. In 1968 a new administrational centre, with accommodation, library and archive storage was constructed. In 1971, the Pittiövaara site was also extensively developed.

Although primarily a geophysical observatory, the astrophysical sciences were also well attended. A radio astronomy receiver was built for the IGY to measure scintillation of the radio star Cas A (a task that KAIRA still undertakes today) and in 1972 a zenith telescope was constructed to make precision measurements of the polar variations... a measurement set that continued for some 20 years until replaced by recent satellite-based methods.

In 1975, Finland joined the European Incoherent Scatter Radar Association (EISCAT), along with several other countries. This resulted in a new building and a 32m parabolic antenna being constructed at SGO. Initially operating at UHF frequencies for radar reception and the HI neutral hydrogen line for interplanetary scintillation measurements, it has recently been upgraded to operate at the lower VHF frequencies.

The 32m EISCAT antenna at SGO.

In 1997, SGO merged with the University of Oulu, and is now a major research unit of the university. In 1998, University's observatory merged with SGO.

And, of course, SGO is responsible for KAIRA. Constructed during 2011-2012, KAIRA is one of the flagship projects of SGO, but one that is built on a long tradition of careful, methodical and patient measurements... 100 years of extremely valuable scientific achievement and a crucial set of data about the natural world.


Kataja, "A Short History of the Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory", Geophysica, 35(1-2),3-13, 1999.

McKay-Bukowski, "KAIRA: The Kilpisjärvi Atmospheric Imaging Receiver Array", submitted, 2013.

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