Atmospheric Studies

Understanding climate and space weather patterns is critical for protecting the environment. SRI performs atmospheric studies through its Center for Geospace Studies and Molecular Physics Program.

Researchers in SRI's Center for Geospace Studies examine the fundamental processes governing the upper atmosphere and space to understand, for instance, how changes in the atmosphere affect the environment and weather. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), SRI has developed the Advanced Modular Incoherent Scatter Radar (AMISR), a state-of-the-art system that collects critical data for studying global climate trends.

In cooperation with the U.S. National Science Foundation and Denmark's Meteorological Institute, Center researchers also study the polar upper atmosphere at the SRI-managed Sondrestrom Upper Atmospheric Research Facility in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland.

In 2011, SRI was selected by the NSF to manage, operate, and maintain the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. Preeminent for its research in astronomy, planetary studies, and space and atmospheric sciences, the observatory is the world's largest, most sensitive single-dish radio telescope.

SRI also participates in missions dedicated to space weather and atmospheric research. Recent work includes the launch of SRI’s Radio Aurora Explorer CubeSat on a Minotaur-IV rocket as part of a space test by the Department of Defense.


an AMISR array

SRI leads development of a modular, mobile radar facility used by research scientists and students from around the world.

spectral glow

Spectral emission studies reveal meteorites’ contribution to airglow.

Two SRI researchers work on a RAX CubeSat

Disruptions in Earth's ionosphere from solar activity can cause communications blackouts, negatively affecting GPS and radio signals. SRI’s revolutionary small satellites offer a novel way to monitor such conditions.

Press Releases

workers repairing the William E. Gordon radio telescope at Arecibo Observatory

Arecibo Observatory has now completed the immediate repair of the William E. Gordon telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. The telescope sustained damage following a 6.4 magnitude earthquake that was centered 37 miles northwest of Arecibo.

The dish at Arecibo

Events and educational activities throughout 2013 will highlight 50 years of contributions from Arecibo Observatory, the world’s largest radio telescope.

SRI International, leading a multi-organization team, has been awarded a five-year cooperative agreement by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to manage, operate and maintain the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

man working on AMISR radar array

SRI announced that early scientific results are now available from the Advanced Modular Incoherent Scatter Radar (AMISR), a modular, transportable radar system funded by the National Science Foundation.

SRI In the News

The NSF-funded project uses a technique called magnotetellurics, which uses magnetometers to measure the earth’s natural electric and magnetic fields, with the addition of extra sensors that will allow scientists at SRI and Oregon State University to measure the effect aurora has on the earth.

Researchers in SRI's Center for Geospace Studies contributed to the poster awarded a Rishbeth Prize, presented at the Hot Springs Magnetosphere, Ionosphere and Solar-Terrestrial (MIST) 2014 conference.

Damage to the iconic Arecibo Observatory from an earthquake earlier this year has been repaired and the telescope is now back to full service.

Arecibo Observatory

Happy 50th birthday to the telescope that brought us the first map of Venus, revealed ice on Mercury, and more.

Overhead view of Arecibo Observatory

The world's largest single-dish radio telescope has received a five-year, multimillion-dollar funding commitment that SRI says will allow scientists to probe the mysteries of imploded stars and maybe even lead to the detection of elusive gravitational waves predicted by Albert Einstein.

According to this article, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico will now be managed by a consortium of organizations including SRI, the Universities Space Research Association, Universidad Metropolitana, and other institutions.


Rishbeth prizewinners Hanna Dahlgren and colleagues investigate the nature of an auroral arc appearing within the deep polar cap region, which won the 2014 Rishbeth Poster Award at Hot Springs MIST.

Blog Posts

Some of SRI International’s most impactful work happens to take place in the most spectacular settings. In addition to extensive IT, logistic, and communications support for NSF science projects in the Arctic, SRI builds and operates world-leading atmospheric research radars in some very remote...

Over the years, findings from Arecibo have contributed to better understanding of the earth’s atmosphere, the moon, asteroids, other planets, exotic stars, our galaxy, and the large-scale galactic structure of the universe.

Between the Russian meteor and the close flyby of asteroid 2012 DA14, the cosmic lightshow of February 15, 2013 reminds us to keep observing newly discovered asteroids in space.