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The Upper Atmosphere


This research is supported by the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and the Office of Naval Research


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We study the Earth's upper atmosphere and ionosphere using high power radars such as the Arecibo and Jicamarca incoherent scatter radars. We also develop and use small coherent scatter radars like the 30 MHz imaging radar interferometer, shown here deployed on St. Croix in the Virgin Islands in support of experiments at Arecibo. One goal of our research is an understanding of the physics of plasma irregularities in the low-, mid-, and high-latitude ionosphere through observation, analysis, and numerical simulation. Another is the development of new techniques for processing radar data such as are involved in in-beam radar imaging. Finally, we seek to understand the composition, energetics, and dynamics of the ionosphere and the systems coupled to it.


T he Upper Atmospheric Facilities program in the Division of Atmospheric Sciences at the National Science Foundation has released a new report describing its current status, scientific contributions, and strategy for continued progress. The report represents a first step toward an integrated management and operations plan. A copy of the report can be found here.

C ornell investigators will be supporting a series of NASA sounding rocket experiments from the Poker Flat Rocket Range in January and February of 2007. The JOULE II and HEX missions are devoted to studying different aspects of the aurora. The Cornell team will be operating the 30 MHz coherent scatter radar imager, which is located at the High Latitude Monitoring Station in Anchorage, Alaska. Radar data will be available in real time in the early morning hours during the experiments.

The Jicamarca staff have begun publishing a monthly electronic newsletter full of details about activities at the observatory. The current issue of "Inside Jicamarca" can be accessed through this link . The Jicamarca summer student program, which is beginning its second year, is also described here .

A NASA sounding rocket campaign took place in the summer of 2004 from Kwajalein Atoll in the western pacific. The objective was to understand plasma irregularities that occur after sunset and interfere with radio wave propagation during so-called "equatorial spread F" conditions. Experimental results point to a new strategy for forecasting the disruptive events. Details can be found here .


Our research takes us to facilities located throughout the world. Shown above (left to right, top to bottom) are the Arecibo Radio Observatory, the Altair radar on Kwajalein Atoll, the rocket launch site on Kwajalein used during the EQUIS II campaign, and our portable radar installation on St. Croix, USVI.