News

Project meetings

A number of internal project meetings and technical meetings took place during the duration of the project, notably the “All Hands” meetings of 2011 and 2012 and “end of the project meeting all-hands meeting” on 11 -12 September 2014. A “Small Hands” meeting was organized in 2013, which was restricted to discussing the technical work packages only. The meeting was open for all project participants and also EISCAT staff from all sites participated. The EISCAT director and the EISCAT staff also convened several “technical telecons” to speed up progress and improve coordination among the technical work packages.  They proved to be very valuable, though in retrospect they should have started earlier and have been made on a more regular basis. The project also held two public presentations.

A public presentation of the EISCAT_3D project took place at the start of the preparatory phase and another one took place on 12 September 2014 at Rymdcampus in Kiruna. The agenda included the following presentations:

  • EISCAT_3D: the next generation incoherent scatter radar for scientific research (Craig Heinselman, EISCAT)
  • EISCAT_3D: Arctic Research Infrastructure for Geospace Environment and Atmosphere (Esa Turunen, SGO)
  • EISCAT_3D: the view from Swedish Institute of Space Physics (Lars Eliasson, IRF)
  • EISCAT_3D in Norway (Cesar La Hoz, UiT)
  • EISCAT_3D and the e-infrastructure challenges (Jacko Koster, SNIC)

The EISCAT_3D users meetings have been held every May in Uppsala, concentrating on different science issues. They have been highly successful and provided a focus for the prospective user community to receive information on the project and contribute their ideas. There is an agreement within the user community to continue these annual meetings after the end of the Preparatory Phase Project.

Work of project committees

EISCAT_3D General Assembly (GA): GA is the ultimate decision-making body of the EISCAT_3D Preparatory Phase consortium. It consists of one representative from each of the participating entities and two representatives from the Coordinator (EISCAT). Members are:

  • Esa Turunen (EISCAT Scientific Association) (until 12/2012)
  • Craig Heinselman (EISCAT Scientific Association) (since 01/2013
  • Henrik Andersson (EISCAT Scientific Association)
  • Cesar La Hoz (Universitetet i Tromsø)
  • Jerker Delsing (Luleå Tekniska Universitet)
  • Lars Eliasson (Institutet för Rymdfysik)
  • Anita Aikio (Oulun Yliopisto)
  • Tomas Andersson, (Vetenskapsrådet)
  • Leif Johansson (National Instruments)
  • Richard Harrison (Science & Techn. Facil. Council Rutherford Appleton Lab.)
  • Jacko Koster (Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing, SNIC) since 2013

The EISCAT_3D_2 General Assembly had 8 meetings during the project.

EISCAT_3D Executive Board: The Executive Board acts as the supervisory body for the execution of the EISCAT_3D Preparatory Phase. The Executive Board prepares meetings, proposes decisions and prepares the agenda of the General Assembly. It seeks a consensus among the members of the consortium, is responsible for the proper execution and implementation of the decisions of the General Assembly and it monitors the effective and efficient implementation of EISCAT_3D Preparatory Phase project. The members of the EISCAT_3D Executive Board are:

  • Esa Turunen (EISCAT Scientific Association) (until 12/2012)
  • Craig Heinselman (EISCAT Scientific Association) (since 01/2013)
  • Henrik Andersson (EISCAT Scientific Association)
  • Jonny Johansson (Luleå Tekniska Universitet)
  • Unni Pia Løvhaug (Universitetet i Tromsø) (since 01/2013)
  • Ingrid Mann (EISCAT Scientific Association) (since 01/2013)
  • Ian McCrea (STFC, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory)
  • Thomas Ulich (Oulun Yliopisto/Sodankylän Geofysiikan Observatorio)

Initially the EISCAT_3D Executive Board had teleconferences every week and physical meetings every 3 months. Since beginning of 2013 the teleconference were normally scheduled every second week and only more often, if needed, and some of the discussions were moved to more targeted technical meetings.

The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) is the monitoring body for the technical execution of the EISCAT_3D Preparatory Phase. It consists of a Technical Coordinator, appointed by the Coordinator, and up to four other members. TAC receives and reviews reports from each work package leader describing the technical progress of his/her work package and the upcoming plans. It reviews and assesses the levels of existing and planned technical coordination between the various work packages of the project as well as the levels of existing and planned technical coordination between the various project partners, including their sub-contractors and affiliated entities. It also provides regular feedback to each work package leader, assessing the progress of each work package, the interactions between the work packages and the project participants, and makes recommendations for future actions. The members of the Technical Advisory Committee are:

  • Jan-Geralt Bij de Vaate (Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON), Dwingeloo, The Netherlands)
  • Tom Grydeland (Northern Research Institute (NORUT), Tromsø, Norway)
  • Frank Lind (MIT Haystack Observatory, United States, Technical Coordinator and Chairman of TAC)
  • Werner Singer (Leibniz-Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP), Kühlungsborn, Germany)

The Technical Advisory Committee has held one regular meeting in 2011, but this proved to be the only meeting of this kind. While the TAC chair provided many useful insights and suggestions, a tighter definition of his role might have made the TAC a more effective review body. The project suggests EISCAT take some measures to set up a technical review during the coming few months.

Project overview

Project period
1. October 2010 – 30. September 2014
Project funds from EC
4 495 227.62 €
Spend by 30 June 2014
3 924 697.63 € (87.31%)

This report describes the outcome of the project as it can be evaluated in October 2014 with the caveat that the reporting is not finalized yet. A major project revision took place in the beginning of 2013 and was reported to Council previously. At that time the descriptions of the work packages were revised and funding allocations modified. All project deliverables have been submitted to EC by 30. September 2014. The EISCAT_3D_2 periodic report 3 for the period October 2013 - September 2014 and the EISCAT_3D_2 final report still need to be prepared within 60/90 days after the end of the project. Based on the numbers as of 30. June 2014 all but one partner were with their spending within their budget limits.

Project partners: The participants are University of Oulu (UOULU), Luleå University of Technology (LTU), Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF), University of Tromsø ( UiT), Science and Technology Facilities Council in the United Kingdom (STFC), the Swedish Research Council (VR), National Instruments (NI) and EISCAT Scientific Association (EISCAT) as the project coordinator. Because of a modification of the SNIC organizational structure, Uppsala University (UU) joint the project as a partner in 2013 in its role as host of the Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing (SNIC). SNIC worked together with Umeå University as a third party of UU.

EISCAT_3D Preparatory Phase: Report on the final project status

Note: This report (EISCAT_3D Preparatory Phase: Report on the final project status) was prepared in October 2014

The aim of the project was to ensure that the EISCAT_3D project will reach a sufficient level of maturity with respect to technical, legal and financial issues so that the construction of the EISCAT_3D radar system can begin immediately after the conclusion of the project. During the EISCAT_3D Preparatory Phase Project the baseline design and site configuration of the full EISCAT_3D system was developed based on reaching a broad consensus in the EISCAT user community.

National consortia in 5 countries have prepared their funding applications in-line with the prepared overall project plan for EISCAT_3D and with their specific research programmes. The costs for the full EISCAT_3D system were clarified during the preparatory phase project and a 4-stage plan to build EISCAT_3D was developed. Stage 1 will already provide world-leading measurements capabilities to attract new users and expand the membership. The presently identified funding opportunities are expected to cover stage 1 and possibly stage 2.

A revised version of the EISCAT Statutes (Blue Book) that can serve as the consortium agreement for EISCAT_3D has been prepared and at present is subject to consultations. The technical work carried out by the project partners is finalized and results are handed over to EISCAT for future use during the implementation phase that will be carried out with industry. The user meetings that were initially organized within the Science activities of the project will continue and will be organized by the EISCAT user community. The budgets prepared within the Preparatory Phase Project will be updated within EISCAT HQ and presented to the Research Councils for negotiations. Some opportunities for additional funding from affiliate members and other sources are identified.

Steps towards construction

The construction of EISCAT_3D requires close interaction with industry in order to ensure the production of components of the high quality and the large numbers needed. This includes the manufacturing of the antenna elements and the corresponding electronics. Engineering solutions could be a development driver for large scale distributed systems in harsh environments.

EISCAT and its users are working together with industry to develop technology and applications for EISCAT_3D. Enterprises, both regional and national, within the EISCAT member countries are expected to respond to invitations to tender for e.g. radio and the digital signal processing instruments, antenna front end and timing systems, and other advanced subsystems.

The timing of EISCAT_3D is ideal. It is now feasible to construct and operate the system and to handle the data volume that the system will provide; this was not the case a few years ago. An increasingly technology-dependent society needs to understand the ionospheric processes caused by space weather in order to minimise their effects on sensitive systems. EISCAT_3D will offer state-of-the-art instruments to the scientific community for dedicated observation campaigns to study processes important for the understanding of our environment and climate, such as the energy coupling between the upper and lower atmosphere, the linkages between the different layers of the upper atmosphere and to interplanetary space, small-scale structures and phenomena as well as micro-meteoroids that enter the atmosphere and participate in atmospheric processes.

Future collaborations

The overall theme of EISCAT_3D is to explore the multiple facets of the question how the Earth's atmosphere is coupled to space. The EISCAT_3D science encompasses climate change, space weather, space debris and near-Earth object studies. The technical challenges to handle large data volumes will employ tools from the newly emerging field of e-science and spur collaboration with local computing centres. EISCAT_3D will provide an unprecedented resource for observations of the near-Earth space. It will provide long-term time-series data of the ionospheric conditions enabling studies of variations on a time-scale over several solar cycles.

When in operation, EISCAT_3D will be at a central position in the international, and trans-regional, space cluster of Northernmost Scandinavia, which includes large space research centres in Kiruna (Sweden), Sodankylä (Finland) and Tromsø (Norway), two rocket launch facilities in Andøya (Norway) and Esrange (Sweden), and several other instruments and instrument networks for geospace observation such as magnetometers and auroral cameras.

The scientific data from EISCAT_3D will be an invaluable asset for models and near real-time forecasts of space weather effects on modern technology, including power grids and other important infrastructures. EISCAT_3D can also contribute to the Space Situational Awareness (SSA) programme by tracking known space debris and assisting communication and navigation services like the Galileo navigation satellites. Discussions have just been initiated between EISCAT, agencies and institutes in the Nordic countries and the European Space Agency (ESA) on the prospect of including EISCAT_3D in ESA's SSA programme. EISCAT will continue to be an active participant in global observation campaigns and international and European research projects. From its foundation EISCAT has been a purely scientific organisation. The radar technologies to be used with EISCAT_3D allow the detection and tracking of small objects in space. The new Bluebook has stipulations that ensures that the EISCAT facilities will be used strictly for scientific and civilian purposes.

Main results from the FP7 Preparatory Phase

The EISCAT_3D Preparatory Phase was concerned with forming a consortium, procuring the financing, selecting the sites, preparing for the data handling, considering the scientific requirements and planning the construction and operation of the system.

The present EISCAT Scientific Association, which will be the basis for the future EISCAT_3D consortium, is funded by research councils and funding bodies in six countries. EISCAT revised its membership policy in May 2013 in order to make it more attractive to new members, and is now open also for institutional members with a smaller financial commitment. Procedures are also implemented within the research infrastructure to safeguard good scientific practice and to ensure the commitment to excellent research. EISCAT has made progress in the work to revise its data policy to prepare for the new system.

To procure the finances, major investments will be needed from several countries. The current estimate of the investment required for EISCAT_3D is 128 M€ over 8 years. This estimate is based on figures given by individual manufacturers, and reductions may still be possible on individual parts, depending on the exact specification as well as bidding from several competitors. Proposals for funding EISCAT_3D have been submitted in Norway and Sweden, and the process is well under way in Finland, Japan and the United Kingdom.

A number of sites for the EISCAT_3D arrays were surveyed, and a list of preferred sites was finalised. In the first stage of the construction of the EISCAT_3D system, the core site and two receiver sites will be built. Areas near Bergfors in Sweden and Karesuvanto in Finland were identified as suitable for the first receiver sites. For the later stages of the construction, areas near Andøya (Norway) and Jokkmokk (Sweden) were identified as locations for receiver sites.

The scientific requirements have a major influence on the system design and for this a Science Case has been continuously revised in collaboration with the present EISCAT user community and with prospective future users. Communication with the scientific user community was facilitated through outreach activities, conference presentations and a series of dedicated meetings organised by the project. The website for EISCAT_3D is online since March 2009 and is regularly maintained and updated.

The planning of the construction and operation of the new system requires a detailed instrument design. The project made use of innovative theoretical studies in signal processing, radar coding, data handling and data analysis, that was summarised in a handbook of measurement principles. The EISCAT_3D will carry out signal processing using software-defined radio receiver systems. The design of the hardware elements needed for the final system and the work on the technical integration of these subsystems were the focus of several of the Work Packages in the project.

A radar system of the complexity of EISCAT_3D requires specialised software both for the system control and for the signal processing and beam-forming. The EISCAT system control software EROS was updated to be able to be used in the context of EISCAT_3D. A parallelised tool for signal processing and data analysis, RLIPS, to be used in the EISCAT_3D radar system was developed, and signal processing and beam-forming software were prepared and tested.

Some of the e-infrastructure needs of EISCAT_3D, such as the network connections between the sites and the computing and data storage near the instruments, require local solutions. Hence a plan was developed with e-infrastructure providers in the host countries for their future involvement in the planning.

Scientific capability

EISCAT_3D will measure the spectra of radio-waves that are back-scattered from free electrons, whose motions are controlled by inherent ion-acoustic and electron plasma waves in the ionosphere. The measured spectra reveal high-resolution information on the ionospheric plasma parameters, but can also be used for obtaining atmospheric data and observations of meteors and space debris orbits. In both active and passive mode, the receivers will provide high-quality scientific and monitoring data from the ionosphere as well as from space within its designed frequency spectrum. The research will both be organised through common observation modes and through requests from individual groups.

EISCAT_3D is designed to use several different measurement techniques which, although they have individually been used elsewhere, have never been combined together in a single radar system. The design of EISCAT_3D allows large numbers of antennas to be combined together to make either a single radar beam, or a number of simultaneous beams, via beam-forming. While traditional radar systems with a single slow-moving antenna, and thus a single beam, can only show us what is happening along a single line in the upper atmosphere, volumetric imaging allows us to see geophysical events in their full spatial context, and to distinguish between processes which vary spatially and those which vary over time.

Since EISCAT_3D is very flexible compared to traditional ionospheric radars, it will allow several new operating modes, including the capabilities to determine vector velocities of moving objects and to respond intelligently to changing conditions, for instance by changing the parameters of a scanning experiment. EISCAT_3D will also allow remote continuous operations, limited only by power consumption and data storage. This is important for monitoring the state of the atmosphere, especially as a function of solar variability, as well as capturing events that appear suddenly and are hard to predict. Radio astronomy observations will be performed when the transmitters are inactive.

System configuration

The EISCAT_3D system will consist of five phased-array antenna fields located in the northernmost areas of Finland, Norway and Sweden, each with around 10,000 crossed dipole antenna elements. One of these sites (the core site) will transmit radio waves at 233 MHz, and all five sites will have sensitive receivers to measure the returned radio signals. Digital control of the transmission and low-level digitisation of the received signal will permit instantaneous electronic steering of the transmitted beam and measurements using multiple simultaneous beams. The central antenna array at each site will be surrounded by smaller outlying arrays which will facilitate aperture synthesis imaging to acquire sub-beam transverse spatial resolution. The central array of each site will be of a size of about 70 m from side to side, and the sites will be located from 90 km to 250 km from the core site in order to be able to maximise the coverage by the system.

EISCAT_3D description and status (January 2015)

A summary of the status of EISCAT Scientific Association and the EISCAT_3D ESFRI Preparatory Phase project was prepared in January 2015. This text can also be downloaded as a pdf-document:
http://www.eiscat3d.se/sites/default/files/E3D_ProjectStatus_January_201...

EISCAT_3D will be an international research infrastructure that is using radar observations and the incoherent scatter technique for studies of the atmosphere and near-Earth space environment above the Fenno-Scandinavian Arctic as well as for support of the solar system and radio astronomy sciences. The radar system is designed to investigate how the Earth's atmosphere is coupled to space but it will also be suitable for a wide range of other scientific targets. It will be operated by EISCAT Scientific Association and hence be an integral part of an organisation that has successfully operated incoherent scatter radars for more than thirty years.

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