Thursday 24 October 2013

Day three of the Space Weather Science Camp

Another report from our KAIRA correspondent, Esa Turunen, in Longyearbyen, Svalbard.

The Finnish students Science Camp in Longyearbyen had a day of full action yesterday in the beautiful auditorium "Lassegrotta" of the University Center in Svalbard (UNIS). After hearing lectures about the the EISCAT radars and ionospheric measurement techniques as well as about the coming ESR experiment by the Finnish scientists Esa and Noora who supervise the group, the students were introduced to space physics in Norway by Kjartan Olafsson from University of Bergen, and naturally to UNIS and student life at 78 degrees north by the UNIS director Ole-Arve Misund.

But the real action started when the students produced their own space weather forecast for the coming radar experiment time at 14-16 UT on Tuesday 22 October 2013. And yes! There will be aurora, everyone concluded. Only moderate activity, but aurora should be visible in the EISCAT Svalbard radar experiment, little bit south of Longyearbyen. So one should tilt the antenna to south. Some hectic calculations were done, and the suitable antenna elevation was selected by the "PI team", which meant all the students in the auditorium. The radar experiment itself was run at the EISCAT Svalbard radar site by the "engineering team", aurora expert Noora and the main coordinating teacher Risto, while the students were seeing radar data being accumulated on the big screen plots in the auditorium. As the aurora signatures appeared on the radar plots, all possible space weather data was followed carefully. As a bonus the students could also follow the Tromso radar and the active heating experiment conducted there at the same time. A continuous Skype connection between the engineering and PI teams was connected to the loudspeakers of the auditorium and made all the discussion on data very lively. The skies were cloudy, so we did not get any visual observation of aurora.

Professor Fred Sigernes opened the Wednesday morning at Kjell Henriksen Observatory,
having a very complete lecture about aurora research. (Photo: E. Turunen)

UNIS director Ole-Arve Misund showed us the slightly different student logistics
department at UNIS, full gear for ever field trip on Svalbard.   (Photo: E. Turunen)

During the day there was live data being taken and used in the lecture. Skype connection between the ESR site and UNIS auditorium was in a small iPod. Noora Partamies was supervising us on what we see on the data screens (shown in the background).  (Photo: E. Turunen)

Director Misund also told about student life in the real north. Here
Finnish UNIS students make a sauna sledging party in the traditional
annual Longyearbyen downhill event.    (Photo: E. Turunen)

Today the students will have their field trip day, visiting both the Kjell Henriksen observatory and the EISCAT Svalbard Radar site.

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