null Construction begins on the international scientific EISCAT 3D radar system

Construction on the international scientific EISCAT 3D radar system is set to begin. The EISCAT_3D incoherent scatter radar is a major step forward in Finnish scientific research on near-Earth space and climate. The system can be used to obtain new data on, for example, how solar storms and space weather affect the upper atmosphere in the Arctic region or how interference caused by space weather affects technological systems, such as satellites and power grids.

When completed, EISCAT_3D will be the most advanced incoherent scatter radar in the world, which, together with the EISCAT Svalbard Radar, will serve as a window to the upper atmosphere and near-Earth space of the Arctic region, explains a University of Oulu press release.

The radar will make use of a technology which provides a three-dimensional image of the upper atmosphere. Phased signals are combined electronically, and the radar is capable of measuring in as much as a hundred different directions at any given instant.

The radar can also be steered extremely quickly. Because the new radar transmitter and receivers can be programmed for instant targeting, multiple measurements can, in principle, be taken simultaneously. Speed is crucial, because some events occurring in the sky come very suddenly. This is why the new radar system can observe phenomena which would be impossible for a slower instrument to capture.


EISCAT_3D scatter radar. Source: EISCAT.

Data connections and data management

The project is coordinated by the EISCAT Scientific Association, whose primary member countries are Norway, Sweden, Finland United Kingdom, Japan and China. The system was built in several EU projects over the past ten years. The Academy of Finland has granted EUR 12.8 million in funding to the project.

In Finland, the project is being coordinated by the University of Oulu and its Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory. CSC is one of the project partners.

– It's extremely gratifying to see the building of research infrastructure, which is so important to Finland, get off to a flying start. We support the project in, for example, the building of data connections and processing data produced by EISCAT_3D, explains Janne Ignatius who is responsible for the EISCAT 3D project at CSC.

Major investment in Finnish space research

The EISCAT_3D radar system consists of three separate stations located in different Nordic countries: a transmitter in Norway and receivers in Finland and Sweden.

The total cost of the international project is about EUR 70 million. The project will begin in September 2017, with the radar system expected to be ready for use in 2021.

The project is important to Finnish space research.

– For the first time, we can take simultaneous three-dimensional measurements of the impact that particles and electrical currents space have on the upper and middle atmosphere. This allows us to study connections between astrophysics and atmospheric physics, states Professor Anita Aikio of the University of Oulu Department of Physics in a press release.

The radar will make measurements at least ten times faster and with ten times finer resolution than current systems.

– EISCAT_3D uses modern analog and digital technologies that enable flexibility now and a path forward for implementing new ideas that emerge from future discoveries. It truly represents a platform for the next generation of space scientists to build upon, states Dr. Craig Heinselman, Director of EISCAT in an EISCAT press release.


Additional information:

Janne Ignatius
Project Director, CSC
tel. +358 (0)94 572 224

University of Oulu press release