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:

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.

NeIC EISCAT_3D Support

The NeIC EISCAT_3D Support (E3DS) project helps the EISCAT_3D community in gathering computing and storage requirements, designing a distributed e-infrastructure integrated into the existing HPC, network and data ecosystem in the (mainly) Nordic countries, and identifies IT expertise needed in the implementation os such an e-infrastructure.

The Nordic e-Infrastructure Collaboration (NeIC) is an organisation that facilitates the development and operation of high-quality e-Infrastructure solutions in areas of joint Nordic interest. The NeIC is a distributed organisation consisting of technical experts from academic high-performance computing centres across the Nordic countries.

This project runs from 15 January 2015 to 14 January 2018.

Two project proposals in preparation for EISCAT_3D

EISCAT3D_PfP in the time-line of the EISCAT_3D project

EISCAT has proposed two projects to prepare for the implementation of EISCAT_3D:
  • EISCAT has submitted a project proposal, “EISCAT_3D: Preparation for Production” (EISCAT3D_PfP) in response to the European Commissions call INFRADEV-3-2015: Individual implementation and operation of ESFRI projects.

    EISCAT3D_PfP is planned to facilitate a smooth and swift transition of the EISCAT_3D project from the FP7 Preparatory Phase to its implementation by carrying out research, development and engineering work jointly with industry in order to quickly reach a mass producible instrument configuration for EISCAT_3D. EISCAT3D_PfP will clear the way for low-risk funding by the research councils of the EISCAT associate countries and will furthermore greatly shorten the time required to see EISCAT_3D come to fruition. The EISCAT Associates fully support the proposed project as an important step toward implementing EISCAT_3D. The project is planned for 2 years, funding decision expected mid 2015.

  • The NeIC project “EISCAT_3D Support” provides advanced user support to assist in the preparation of the implementation of EISCAT_3D for the aspects concerning e-infrastructure. It serves the following specific goals: to contribute to preparing for the implementation of EISCAT_3D by bringing together the EISCAT radar expertise with the existing IT expertise in the Nordic national e-infrastructures, to provide expert knowledge to support EISCAT_3D e-science planning and computer hardware procurement and to introduce a moderator role in the discussion of the different stakeholders in the Nordic countries. The Project starts in January 2015 and is planned for a 3 year time.

Periodic report 3 (October 2013 - September 2014)

The third Periodic Report covers the months 37 to 48 of the 4-year Preparatory Phase project for the EISCAT_3D facility (Europe's next-generation radar for the study of the high-latitude atmosphere and geospace). It addresses the project coordination and management, as well as the technical and financial aspects of the project. It has been submitted to the European Commission for evaluation.

Application for EISCAT_3D funding in Norway submitted

The Norwegian EISCAT community has submitted an applications for funding from the Research Council of Norway (Forskningsrådet). The application is for funding towards construction of EISCAT_3D.

Submitting the EISCAT_3D application
The picture above shows a screen capture the moment after Cesar La Hoz at UiT (the project manager and coordinator of the application preparations) made the submission.

This application has broad support in Norway:

University of Tromsø (UiT)
The Department of Physics and Technology has agreed to serve as host institution for EISCAT_3D, with full support from all major Norwegian universities. UiT has made a significant commitment to realise EISCAT_3D in terms of in-kind contributions.
University of Bergen (UiB)
The Birkeland Centre for Space Science at the Department of Physics and Technology believe there are strong synergies with their Centre of Excellence and will commit efforts towards EISCAT_3D.
The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS)
The Arctic Geophysics Department operates major research infrastructure in Svalbard (KHO, SPEAR, SuperDARN) and offers several advanced EISCAT courses. EISCAT_3D therefore provides opportunities for new synergies.
University of Oslo (UiO)
The Department of Physics is focusing on cube-satellites, sounding rockets, optics and incoherent radar studies. EISCAT_3D is therefore very relevant for their research activities.
Andøya Space Center (ASC)
Andøya Space Center has expressed strong interest in EISCAT_3D, in particular as a support instrument during the launch of sounding rockets, and has agreed to host an EISCAT_3D receiving site.
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
The Department of Physics anticipates future involvement in EISCAT_3D in relation to research described in the application.
PDF icon EISCAT_3D application, Norway 20142.43 MB

17th EISCAT International Symposium

The 17th EISCAT Symposium and 42nd Atmospheric Studies by Optical Methods (42AM) symposia will be hosted by the South African National Space Agency on 14-18 September 2015 in Hermanus, South Africa. The meetings are planned to run in parallel, with some common sessions and shared activities.

Further information will appear at
in due course.