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The Upper Atmosphere


This research is supported by the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, DARPA, 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.


H igh-altitude radar measurements have been resumed at the Jicamarca Radio Observatory, continuing a line of research that was begun 50 years ago. The measurements are intended to reveal the structure of the equatorial plasmasphere and the variability that exists during solar and geomagnetic storms. The goal is to begin making regular measurements of the plasmasphere up to 10,000-km altitude. Read more about the high-altitude investation in this EOS spotlight.

O ur research group focuses on space weather which disrupts the ionosphere and magneosphere, interfering with radio-based communication, navigation, and imaging systems and posing a hazard. A recent article describing some of the components of our research can be found here. A new project supported by AFOSR involves using a numerical simulation of the equatorial ionosphere to forecast disruptive events. That project is summarized here.

A workshop was convened at Cornell University during spring break from March 30 -- April 1, 2015, to honor (belatedely) Professor Donald Farley on the occasion of his 80th birthday and to consider the future of radio and space physics research. About 60 scientists from North America, South America, and Europe attended. The final workshop program is now available. Photos of the workshop are hosted at this site (thanks Craig). We have also produced a workshop report which summarizes the discussions that took place.


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.