SuperDARN officially opened
Top image: The new SuperDARN radar facility at Breinosa outside Longyearbyen. Photo: Xiangcai Chen/UNIS.
Norway’s first SuperDARN radar was officially opened today. From now on data from the radar, which signals reach well over the North Pole, will be available to the rest of the world.
19 October 2016
Text: Eva Therese Jenssen
Today UNIS opened the first ever SuperDARN radar in Norway. The radar facility is co-located with the Kjell Henriksen Observatory and the EISCAT Svalbard radar on the mountain Breinosa just outside Longyearbyen.
SuperDARN stands for Super Dual Auroral Radar Network. The Svalbard radar is one of more than 30 low-power HF radars that look into Earth’s upper atmosphere beginning at mid-latitudes and extending into the Polar regions.
The radar structure consists of two rows of masts which are between 50 and 60 feet (15–18 meters) high. The facility was built last summer and the radar has been in operation since last autumn, but today the Svalbard SuperDARN was officially opened.
“Looks” across the North Pole
–The radar observes the motion of charged particles (plasma) in the ionosphere between 200 and 300 kilometers above us, providing us with information on the Earth’s space environment, explains UNIS professor Dag Lorentzen, who leads the SuperDARN project together with associate professor Lisa Baddeley.
The radar’s signals reach 3,000 kilometers from Longyearbyen, well over the North Pole.
The radar will investigate the speed and direction of the particles moving at an altitude of about 200–300 kilometers. The direction and speed of the flow is determined by the interaction of the Solar magnetic field with the Earth’s magnetic field.
The information provides insight into space weather hazards including radiation exposure for high-altitude travelers and disruptions to communication networks, navigation systems (GPS), and electrical power grids.
–The radar is in continuous operation with real-time observations fed back to UNIS, which from today on will be fed into the central database at Virginia Tech for the international research community, says Baddeley. The real-time data will also available on the web soon.
The Svalbard SuperDARN project started five years ago, when ConocoPhillips provided UNIS funding through its Northern Areas Research Program. The Lundin oil company also gave financial support for the NOK 10 million radar facility, which was opened officially today.
A link to the SuperDARN information page can be found here.