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European Incoherent SCATter (EISCAT)

The EISCAT Scientific Association (Nordic members from Finland, Norway and Sweden) operates radars and receivers to study the interaction between the Sun and the Earth, as revealed by disturbances in the magnetosphere and the ionized parts of the atmosphere (these interactions also give rise to the spectacular aurora, or Northern Lights).

There are major continuing collaborations with the USA, notably with the other incoherent scatter radars (funded by the Upper Atmosphere Facilities part of the NSF) and projects in the KDI initiative (also NSF funded). The radars are operated in both Common and Special Program modes, depending on the particular research objective, and Special Program time is accounted and distributed between the Associates according to rules that are published from time to time.

The EISCAT transmitter site is located close to the city of Tromsø, in Norway, and additional receiver stations are located in Sodankylä, Finland, and Kiruna, Sweden. Several Incoherent Scatter facilities are distributed about the world, such as Millstone Hill Observatory (MHO), in Westford, Massachusetts. MHO is a broad-based atmospheric sciences research facility owned and operated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Atmospheric Sciences Group, which staffs and manages the observatory, is a part of MIT’s Haystack Observatory, a basic research organization whose focuses on radio wave and radar science, instrumentation and techniques.

The Incoherent Scatter Radar technique requires sophisticated technology and EISCAT engineers are constantly involved in upgrading the systems. The EISCAT Scientific Association is currently constructing a new incoherent scatter radar facility, the EISCAT Svalbard Radar. The first ionospheric returns were received on 16 March 1996. General and detailed hardware and software documentation of the new facility is under construction, and an evolving description of related ground-based instrumentation is also available.


Tony van Eyken


University of Tromsø

Institutions involved in Upper Atmosphere Facilities


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