Press release: EISCAT_3D Preparatory Phase

From the middle atmosphere to the fringes of space:
Major new radar provides a big boost for environmental science.

A global consortium of scientists unveils plans for a major new research facility in the Nordic countries. In Stockholm on 21-22 October, the EISCAT Scientific Association will announce a European development project to produce the most sophisticated research radar ever built.

Tens of thousands of individual antennas
The new radar, EISCAT_3D, will comprise multiple antenna arrays distributed over the northern regions of Norway, Sweden and Finland. EISCAT_3D is expected to transform our knowledge of the upper atmosphere and near-Earth space. Exploiting the latest technology, the facility will combine the capability to image a wide area of the upper atmosphere with novel techniques to probe very small-scale structures.

From studies of solar energy transport to space junk measurements
The new observations will help us understand how energy from the Sun is transferred into the Arctic upper atmosphere, affecting other altitudes and latitudes. With better observations of the chemical and dynamical coupling between the upper and lower atmosphere, we will better understand the potential contribution of these natural processes to long-term global change.

EISCAT_3D will be a world-leading instrument for studying “space weather” – the impact of solar activity on the region surrounding the Earth. Understanding and predicting space weather is crucial, since mankind relies on space-based technology for communications and global positioning. Space debris, the “junk” from extinct satellites or collisions between spacecraft is also a major hazard. EISCAT_3D will monitor these objects and study how their orbits respond to changes in the atmosphere, thus contributing to better predictions.

EU plans funding of 4.5 M€
Construction of EISCAT_3D is expected to start in 2014, replacing the radars which EISCAT has operated in Scandinavia since 1981. The members of EISCAT are research funding agencies from China, Finland, Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom, with additional contributions from France, Russia and Ukraine. The development of EISCAT_3D was already supported by the European Commission from 2005 to 2009, with a first design study into the new radar concept. The Preparatory Phase study (2010-2014) is supported by 4.5 M€ from the EU 7th Framework programme and involves 8 European institutes and 40 global partners. EISCAT_3D is included in the ESFRI (the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures) Roadmap, listing 44 research facilities seen as vital to the development of the European research area over the next 20-30 years.

EISCAT’s Finnish Director, Dr. Esa Turunen, said: “Although EISCAT_3D will be constructed in Europe, our aim is to create a resource for use by researchers anywhere, collaborating globally in an area of science which is crucial to the wellbeing of human society. This meeting marks the latest stage in a project which was first envisaged almost ten years ago. Five years from today we hope to have realised that vision and established a facility which will be a cornerstone of our science for the next thirty years”.

Notes to editors
The Kick-Off Meeting for the EISCAT_3D Preparatory Phase project will take place at the Clarion Hotel Stockholm, Ringvägen 98, Stockholm on Thursday October 21 (12:00-17:00) and Friday October 22 (09:00-12:00). Both days of the meeting are open to the press, and will include presentations from the EISCAT Director and leading project participants.

A briefing document containing more background information about the project, including details of the EISCAT Scientific Association and the ESFRI infrastructure initiative can be found at:
http://www.eiscat3d.se/material/kickoff/briefing.