Advanced Modular Incoherent Scatter Radar (AMISR) | SRI International

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an AMISR array

Advanced Modular Incoherent Scatter Radar (AMISR)

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

Under a grant from the National Science Foundation, SRI leads a collaborative effort in developing AMISR, a modular, mobile radar facility used by research scientists and students from around the world. Information about how to request usage of the facilities appears below.

AMISR is the first system to provide scientists with the technology necessary to collect critical data and study global climate trends from year to year. Scientists can now investigate the energy and momentum transfer among all layers of the Earth’s upper atmosphere, accessing critical data on the complex physical processes that comprise the sun, magnetosphere, and ionosphere.

Data collected from the high-latitude atmosphere and ionosphere provide an opportunity for early detection of climate-change phenomena. AMISR monitors space weather events, which can potentially damage and interrupt power grids and satellite and electronic communication.

The novel modular configuration of AMISR allows relative ease of relocation for studying upper atmospheric activity around the globe. Remote operation and electronic beam steering allow researchers to operate and position the radar beam instantaneously to accurately measure rapidly changing space weather events.

AMISR consists of three separate radar faces, with each face comprised of 128 building block-like panels over a 30- by 30-meter, roughly square, surface. The first three faces in Poker Flat, Alaska (PFISR), and Resolute Bay, Nunavut, Canada (RISR-N and RISR-C), are in use for scientific investigations. Future AMISR locations will be determined by a scientific advisory panel. Since each face of AMISR functions independently, AMISR can be deployed in up to three separate locations at the same time.

AMISR is made up of 4,096 antennas, giving a combined power of up to two megawatts. By phasing the signal coming from the individual antennas, the radar beam can be steered almost instantaneously from one position in the sky to another. This unique feature of AMISR is especially important for studying rapidly moving features of the atmosphere.

SRI leads the design, construction, and testing of the facility. Subcontractor Sanmina-SCI is manufacturing the Antenna Element Units, the basic building blocks of the radar panels. VECO Alaska Inc. oversees design and structural engineering of the radar, including the panels and support scaffolding. Co-investigator institutions include MIT Millstone Hill, University of Alaska, University of Calgary, and University of Saskatchewan.

To request Poker Flat AMISR (PFISR) or Resolute Bay North Face (RISR-N) operations, contact the AMISR team as early as possible. Include experiment purpose, scientific objectives, relevant operating details (dates, hours, optical or geophysical conditions, etc.), and collaborators. If more time is requested than the operating budget allows, these details will help us combine operating modes and share windows to satisfy as many users as possible.