Antarctic Super DARN Research Operations and System Enhancements

Project: Research project

Project Details


The Super Dual Auroral Radar Network, or SuperDARN, is an international collaborative experiment for observations of plasma motions in Earth's upper atmosphere where, by observing ionospheric plasma convection, a multitude of geophysical processes can be studied. These processes range from the ionospheric E-layer plasma instabilities to the relationships between auroral luminosity and ionospheric electric fields, as well as from the global-scale ionospheric convective response to changes in the solar wind and interplanetary magnetic field. Each of these areas of study contributes to the overall goals of the space physics research - understanding of the coupling of solar wind energy into Earth's upper atmosphere and its effects on manmade, distributed systems such as communication networks, electrical grids, and pipelines build for various applications.

This award will support operation of, and research using data from, the SuperDARN radars installed at McMurdo Station (MCM) and Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station (SPS), Antarctica. The latter radar will also be enhanced to enable polarimetric observations because no SuperDARN radars currently have this ability to characterize polarization of their received signals. Providing this capability to SuperDARN radars will open up entirely new research areas for SuperDARN. The physical location of the SPS radar atop the polar ice cap provides a unique opportunity for polarization observations at the frequencies of operation of the SuperDARN radars. While polarization measurements would be possible elsewhere, the absence of ground reflections at South Pole significantly simplifies the signal interpretation and enables investigations exploiting the magneto-ionic effect (known as Faraday rotation) to characterize the electron density along the high-frequency signal ray paths. As part of the global SuperDARN network, this cooperative scientific effort fosters broad societal impacts as training students and young researchers with 'both hands' on the engineering projects and data analysis.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date10/1/219/30/26


  • National Science Foundation: $2,656,568.00


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