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Advanced Modular Incoherent Scatter Radar

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Advanced Modular Incoherent Scatter Radar (AMISR) Operations and Maintenance: The First Deployments  (SRI International)

Research Focus

The Advanced Modular Incoherent Scatter Radar (AMISR) is a state-of-the-art, modular, mobile research facility that scientists from around the world use to study the upper atmosphere and space weather events.

Its design features three radar faces in separate locations. As of July 2012, two of the three units had been built and deployed, one at Poker Flat, Alaska and the other in Resolute Bay, Nunavut, Canada. (Future AMISR locations will be determined by a scientific advisory panel.) The units can be deployed separately or work together.

AMISR's novel modular configuration allows it to be relocated for studying upper atmospheric activity around the globe. Remote operation and electronic beam steering allow researchers to operate and position the radar beam instantaneously to accurately measure even fast-changing space weather events.

AMISR began operating in Poker Flat in January 2007. That facility consists of a single radar face approximately 35 meters square, while at Resolute Bay there are two such faces arranged to extend coverage across the polar cap.

SRI International, a nonprofit research organization, leads the collaborative effort to develop AMISR.

Research benefits

AMSIR provides scientists with the technology necessary to collect critical data and study global climate trends from year to year. Scientists can investigate the energy and momentum transfer among all layers of the Earth’s upper atmosphere, accessing data on the complex physical processes within the sun, magnetosphere and ionosphere. Data collected from the high-latitude atmosphere and ionosphere provide an opportunity for early detection of climate-change phenomena. Space weather events, which can potentially damage and interrupt power grids and satellite and electronic communication, are also monitored. Thus the AMISR research can help prevent or mitigate potentially large economic losses.

Education & Outreach

Support of a strong, distributed and trained user community is very important to the overall scientific success of the AMISR project. The AMISR management team works with graduate and undergraduate students and their advisors to assist with student training, experiment planning and scheduling. It also maintains a repository for contributed course materials, technical data and facility instrument information.

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  • artist's rendering of AMISR
AMISR conceptual drawing with aurora borealis in background.
AMISR