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.

WP10: Aperture synthesis imaging radar

Lead: UiT
UiT 24 months

The major activity of this work package is the determination of the optimum number of outlying passive phased array antennas and their optimum localisation (antenna configuration) in order to fulfill the imaging (across-beam) spatial resolution criteria of the Aperture Synthesis Imaging.

WP10 was also a follow-on activity from the FP6 study and has been successfully finalized several months before the end of the project.

WP9: Transmitter development

Lead: IRF
IRF 30 months, EISCAT 4 months

In this work package, important parts of the EISCAT_3D radar transmitter subsystem are designed and evaluated. These particular areas of the transmitter design were planned to be addressed already during the FP6 Design Study were left unfinished because of a lack of manpower and time.

WP9 was intended to be a limited activity, following up on work done in the FP6 design study. The work has been finalized more than a year ago.

WP8: Antenna, front end and time synchronization

Lead: LTU
LTU 48 months, NI 2 months

The antennas, array layout, receiver front end, and calibration system all play important roles in setting the achievable system performance. The objective of this work package is to produce designs of these hardware elements which will be suitable for industrial consideration, and to identify the people who are capable of constructing them.

WP8 outcome is in good shape, with a good design and working prototypes being tested. The work that involved SMEs and resulted in prototyping carried out in WP14.

WP7: Digital signal processing

UOULO 22.3 months, NI 10 months

In this work package, the techniques of signal processing using software-defined radio (SDR) receiver systems is developed to be suitable for parallel processing of signals from a phased array radar. The development is done via laboratory set-ups of hardware and software, followed by a field trial of the developed units, to establish their reliability and performance. 

WP7 has suffered from organisational and intellectual property problems and delays in the planned field testing. They were only carried out during the last months of the project. Part of the delay is caused by revisiting some fundamental design issues (such as the concept of a locally bistatic system) which, in hindsight, proved to be unnecessary.

WP5: Consortium building

EISCAT 21 months, UiT 6 months, VR 4 months

In this work package, the consortium of funding bodies which will support the new infrastructure is identified, a firm overview of the costs of constructing and operating the new infrastructure is obtained and confronted to the commitments available, and the organisational structure of EISCAT is re-examined, in order to verify whether the new consortium can be accommodated.

WP5 was successful in identifying some potential new partners and especially in co-ordinating the existing partners into a consortium to fund the project. Five countries are now preparing coordinated funding proposals and their national applications are at various stages in the review process. The work package also established the path of dialogues with e-infrastructure stakeholders and with other European research infrastructures. The effort needed to support national funding applications in the membership countries was underestimated by far and the activities were partly funded outside of the project.