The 7th EISCAT_3D User Meeting: Uppsala, 6-7 May 2015

Group photo at the 7th EISCAT_3D Users Meeting

The 7th user meeting for the EISCAT_3D project took place in Uppsala, Sweden, on May 6-7, 2015. The theme for this meeting was "Connections of EISCAT_3D with other research infrastructures and project initiatives"

More information about the meeting is available at the meeting web page:

The programme contained the following presentations, some of which available for download by clicking the title:

ISR data workshop and EGI EISCAT_3D Competence Centre kick-off (10 – 11 March 2015)

A workshop on incoherent scatter radar (ISR) data and the co-located EGI EISCAT_3D Competence Centre kick-off meeting took place at Space Campus, Kiruna, on 10 – 11 March 2015.

The ISR data workshop was part of the efforts within the COOPEUS project for harmonisation and coordination between the EU and the US ISR communities. The EGI EISCAT_3D Competence Centre will collect and analyse requirements, integrate EISCAT_3D-specific applications into state-of-the-art services, foster interoperability across e-Infrastructures, and evolve services through a user-centric development model.

The agenda for the meeting included the following presentations (available for download by clicking their titles):

Tuesday 10 March 2015, 08:30 - 17:30
Seminar room: Aniara

Camp Ripan

Wednesday 11 March 2015, 08:30 - 12:00
Seminar room: Aniara

WP6: Performance specification

EISCAT 4 months, UOULU 28 months, STFC 2 months

The preparation of an initial performance specification was already undertaken at the start of the FP6-funded EISCAT_3D Design Study. This is revisited and during this phase of the project, the trade-off between the desired system performance and the level of resources likely to be available to implement EISCAT_3D will become evident. EISCAT_3D will also incorporate a range of new measurement principles made possible not only by the innovative phased array design, but also by the innovative types of signal processing, coding, data handling and data analysis. A handbook of measurement principles is prepared, in order to outline the optimum strategies for the use of the new facility.

WP6 has posed some difficulties in coordination, since the package was shared between two different partners and the lead partner (EISCAT) did not have most of the staff months, which were dedicated to preparing the “Handbook of Measurement Principles”.  There have been quite lengthy initial discussions about this work package and some issues took a long while to resolve. A first version of the Integrated Performance Specification was prepared by EISCAT HQ on the initiative of the project manager already in April 2012. This was also basis for the first funding applications and it was approved by the Executive Board in November 2013. The discussions of the performance specification were made under broad and active participation of the user community.

Considering management structure for EISCAT_3D – next steps

Based on the statutes EISCAT_3D will be implemented by EISCAT Scientific Association who is the project owner and assumes overall responsibility. EISCAT Council oversees the implementation and delegates its execution to the EISCAT director who is supported by a project office that is installed for this purpose. It is suggested that the director and the project office will also regularly consult with the representatives of national consortia, with the host institutions and the EISCAT_3D user meeting during their work, while all project decisions and negotiations among the different national consortia are done in Council where all consortia are represented. It is foreseen that Council’s AFC will closely monitor the finances and administrative work of the project office. The project proposes to Council to install in addition a Technical Review Panel (TRP) with the mandate to review the instrument design work and to evaluate whether the design is suitable to meet the measurement, budget and operational requirements at the same time.

Signing the revised EISCAT Statutes (the new Bluebook) is also important because some of the modifications and additional documents respond to comments that the project received during different presentations and evaluations: the need for a de-commissioning plan, for a data policy, for specifying e-infrastructure needs and developing solutions and for having well-defined performance indicators and a structure for planning and reporting within the association in place. The new Terms of Reference in the Bluebook suggest that workflow within the association will be more structured so that coherent workflow related to strategic and operational planning and reporting shall equip the Council to make informed decisions. In order for this to have some credibility, it would be helpful that the already existing reporting within the association be updated regularly. A clear reporting and smoothly working committee structure would also be helpful for attracting new members. To clarify the conditions for space debris observations it would be helpful the planned expert group starts its work soon after the Council meeting.

Both the expert group and the Technical Review Panel would need a well-defined task given to them by Council. Also the funding needs to be clarified and chairpersons need to be assigned.

Engagement with local stakeholders

Some discussions with local stakeholders started during the Preparatory Phase project and need to be continued during the implementation of EISCAT_3D.

Discussions with host institutions
The project receives active support from the EISCAT host institutions who ate present provide part or all of the staffing and operation of the sites. They also have played key roles in submitting funding proposals for EISCAT_3D in their countries. Discussions with the host institutions take place about twice a year and all participants agreed to continue doing so during the implementation of EISCAT_3D.

Discussions on e-infrastructure providers in the host countries
During the transition of EISCAT_3D from the preparatory phase to the implementation phase several important tasks are related to e-infrastructure close to the sites. Aside from that archiving solutions need to be developed and the large volume of data suggests archiving close to the sites, which makes it plausible to link to existing e-infrastructure in the Nordic countries. Within the preparatory phase project WP 13 partner SNIC has taken over the role to engage with stakeholders from national e-Infrastructure provider organizations and academic high-performance computing centres. The SNIC computing centres are, however, also a potential host of the future EISCAT_3D archive. To avoid conflicts of interest during the negotiation phase it is desirable to have an independent party involved. The project has asked for support from the Nordic e-Infrastructure Collaboration (NeIC). EISCAT together with NeIC has identified a project plan to collaborate on preparing to meet the e-infrastructure and e-science needs of EISCAT_3D. The envisioned project would assign to NeIC a moderator role in the discussion with the different stakeholders in the Nordic countries, discussion outcomes would be reported to EISCAT Council. In September 2014, the support project was proposed to the NeIC Board where the research councils and academic computing centers of the Nordic countries are represented.

Discussions on frequency allocation
This dialogue was carried out outside of the Preparatory Phase Project and still continues. There were some positive developments, but frequency allocations are not granted yet. In a next step more detailed information is prepared by EISCAT and delivered to the authorities.

Potential new affiliate members and funding opportunities

Discussions with the present and potential future partners have resulted in a number of groups that are interested joining the project in the near future. EISCAT has in June 2013 published a new Membership Policy anticipating a new affiliate membership that will be included in the new statutes of the association. While EISCAT will continue its time-buying scheme to allow research groups and organisations to get access to its facilities given that the external users can cover the operational costs for doing the experiments; the focus will not be on selling observation time to pay for operations but rather to expand the numbers of Associates and Affiliates. Recently the Institute de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (IRAP-CNRS, France) already signed up as affiliate. The Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute and the Institute of Radio Astronomy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine are planning to change funding from time-buying schemes to Affiliate memberships. Discussions with potential new members converged to a group of institutions in several countries that are interested in joining as affiliate members in the near future, some in 2015. The present situation is as follows:

  • The Belgium Institute for Space Aeronomy is interested in aurora studies, meteor studies and joint spacecraft observations with EISCAT, their affiliate membership had to be postponed because of a budget cut. But membership paid through project funding would be considered.
  • The German Aerospace Center is interested in space weather research and middle and upper atmospheric studies with EISCAT and considers becoming an Affiliate Member.
  • The Leibniz-Institute for Atmospheric Research is interested in middle atmosphere observations, partly in combination with rocket campaigns and in coordination with their instruments located near Andoya. Opportunities for funding an Affiliate Membership are at present explored.
  • The CNRS institute has made an agreement with EISCAT already (see above) and intends to continue that, as funding permits.
  • INGV in Rome is interested in collaborations related to space weather research, some initial discussion took place, but conditions are still unclear.
  • The Korea Polar Research Institute (KOPRI) indicated its interest in using EISCAT for research into the arctic atmosphere and becoming Affiliate member in 2015. An initial discussion with the EISCAT community took place during the EISCAT SOC meeting in August 2014.
  • The Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute is interested in becoming Affiliate member in 2015 in order to use EISCAT for space weather studies. An initial discussion with the EISCAT community took place during the EISCAT SOC meeting in August 2014.
  • The Polish Space Research Institute in Warsaw suggested to start the Affiliate membership through a joint scientific research proposal which will be prepared by the end of 2014.
  • Finally EISCAT was asked to participate in an effort to establish a distributed research infrastructure on space weather in Europe.

The European Space Agency (ESA) has before bought observation time and supported special projects at EISCAT. There is a mutual interest in continuing the cooperation, especially focused around the European H2020 Space programme and ESA’s programme on Space Situational Awareness (SSA). The conditions of space debris observations are still subject to discussions and Council decided an expert group should work out and suggest to Council the details of how EISCAT could participate in space debris observations.

European Commission: The message from EC and the Competitive Council is that EISCAT_3D is targeted for funding in the range of 2-5 MEUR in the upcoming INFRADEV-3 call for supporting the transition toward implementation. The call is scheduled to close on January 14th 2015.

WP14: Technical integration and production issues

EISCAT 24 months, LTU 10 months, NI 6 months

This work package focuses on technical integration between the various sub-systems and the overall manufacturing, reliability and quality assurance. The work package starts halfway through the project when the RTD oriented work packages are well underway. Several sub-parts are deemed to be fairly standardised and are intended to be used integrated in the final system together with the unique parts that will be developed primarily in work packages 7, 8 and 9. The technical integration will identify and incorporates all parts of the whole system into a producible system. This activity is also vital for the costing of the whole system.

WP14 has always been planned to start only in the second half of the project, because it bases on outputs from the other technical packages. It suffered from lack of progress in the other technical work packages and from the lack of technical coordination in the project. It has been impossible to do all of the prototyping originally planned, but the prototyping that was done, was quite successful. The deliverables were adjusted to prepare for the costbook preparation requested by the research councils. The deliverables of this work package contain specification of the required sub-systems (without cost information) as well as all information relevant to preparing the cost book except for the numbers that have to be confidential. With the technical description document and the basic parameters for the costbook the deliverables contain the technical documents that are among the most urgently needed documents for the next steps toward implementing EISCAT_3D. All deliverables in this work package are in good shape.

WP13: Data handling and distribution

Lead: UU
UU 6 months

This work package determines how the EISCAT_3D data system will be implemented on the e-infrastructure which currently exists in northern Scandinavia or is planned for the near future. Carried out by Uppsala University (UU), hosting the Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing (SNIC) together with Umeå University, third party of UU, engages with the national providers of networking, storage and high performance computing to ensure that the requirements of the project can be optimally satisfied. According to the modified plan, the activities in this work package started in March 2013 and continued until the end of the project.

WP13 was in the beginning hampered by the uncertainties in the performance specification and in addition experienced some delays, because the legal entity responsible for the Swedish National Infrastructure for computing changed from VR to Uppsala University as host of SNIC during the project.  Through SNIC becoming more involved it was possible to make some very useful additional connections to e-infrastructure providers in the host countries.  The work package has been de-scoped to six months and this time has been well spent.

WP12: System control

EISCAT 8 months

This work package determines the changes that are needed to be implemented in the existing EISCAT system control software (EROS) in order to control a system on the scale envisaged for EISCAT_3D with sufficient flexibility and programmability.

The work plan for this work package has been significantly changed compared to the original work plan, since the development of an operating system for a specific hardware cannot be made within the scope of the Preparatory Phase project. Instead the focus is turned towards general considerations needed for a system of the scale of EISCAT_3D. This work also suffered from delays in other work packages and some of the work originally planned turned out to be impossible because other packages were not far enough along. Nonetheless, this work package has been generally successful and has gone smoothly.

WP11: Software theory and implementation

UOULO 45 months

The purpose of this work package is to develop the software modules required for data processing and analysis tasks of the EISCAT_3D radar system. The development is needed because of the complexity of a distributed phased-array incoherent radar system compared to earlier systems.

WP11 has made lots of progress in developing solutions for this tasks but it could have gone even further in integration of EISCAT_3D hardware and software, if there had been faster progress in the other work packages (especially WP 7). Nonetheless, this work package has been generally successful and has gone smoothly.