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Shall 'see' over the North Pole

The project started four years ago. In a few weeks Chris Thomas, Xuangcai Chen, Jack Savage, Mikko Syrsasuo, Kevin Krieger, Lisa Baddeley, Pål Ellingsen and Dag A. Lorentzen have finished the job. FOTO: Christopher Engås

Shall 'see' over the North Pole

A new radar station being built on the Mine 7 mountain is part of a global network that will study particles in the ionosphere.

A group of academics, engineers and advanced students at The University Centre in Svalbard have been working on the Mine 7 mountain since late June. They have mounted two long rows of masts, one 60 feet tall and the other 50 feet, which eventually will become part of the first Norwegian SuperDARN radar (Super Dual Auroral Radar Network).

"The radar will study particles in the ionosphere affecting, among other things, GPS signals," said Dag A. Lorentzen, the project leader and a physics professor at UNIS.

"More specifically, the radar will investigate the speed and direction of the particles moving at an altitude of about 300 kilometers," said Lisa Baddeley, a project assistant and associate physics professor at UNIS. "This stream of particles is related to how much energy is transferred from the sun to the Earth's upper atmosphere."

A Norwegian first
The SuperDARN consists of more than 30 installations, with the radar facilities located throughout the world. The radar on the Mine 7 mountain will be the first on Norwegian soil.

"The radar will have an enormous 'field of vision,'" Lorentzen said. "The signals will reach 3,000 kilometers from Longyearbyen, therefore well over the North Pole."

The project cost about ten million kroner, with private industry sponsors and The Research Council of Norway aiding UNIS in completing the facility.

Multinational
The SuperDARN network is characterized as international. Also recognized as international is the group setting up the radar on the Mine 7 mountain. Chris Thomas has built the electronics and, along with Jack Savage and Lisa Baddeley, are affiliated with the University of Leicester in England. Mikko Syrasuo is an engineer from Finland who is also doing considerable work at the nearby Kjell Henriksen Observatory. Xuangsai Chen of China is a PhD student at UNIS and Kevin Krieger of Canada is chief of construction for the facility near Longyearbyen. The latter is associated with the University of Saskatchewan in his home country has set up this type of facility before.

Lorentzen and postdoctoral student Pål Ellingsen were the only Norwegians in the group when Svalbardposten visited the installation.

Operating sometime this year
Piles of the masts were brought to the site by LNS Spitsbergen last fall and the job now is to secure them together with cables and wires. According to Lorentzen, the first Norwegian SuperDARN radar should be operational during the next few months.

"In September a container will come with electrical components to be mounted and remain standing between the two rows," he said. "Once that is done the radar will 'see' beyond the ionosphere uninterrupted and the goal is to be operational in late autumn."

No buildings will be set up as part of the installation. Work done in connection with radar will happen from UNIS.

Translated by Mark Sabbatini

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Se bildet større

The workers can not complain about the view. The antennas are 20 meters high. FOTO: Christopher Engås

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