CUTLASS is a new twin-station HF radar to study the high latitude ionosphere. The radar has been funded by the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) at a cost of £576,000, with additional contributions being made by Sweden and Finland. The system has been constructed by the Radio and Space Plasma Physics Group at Leicester University.
The Group's extensive experience in solid state transmitter design has been invaluable in the development of the 600W RF power amplifier employed in the CUTLASS phased array radar. The distributed transmitter design requires an individual transmitter module to be installed at the base of each of the 16 transmitting antennas which form the main antenna array. A second, smaller array forms an interferometer which allows the angle of arrival of the backscattered signal to be determined.
The radars are located in Iceland and in Finland, and both look north into a volume over and to the north of Scandinavia, covering the Svalbard archipelago. The Finland radar was completed in early 1995 and the Iceland radar in the following autumn. The use of two radars enables the ionospheric convection velocity vector perpendicular to the Earth's magnetic field to be resolved.
The CUTLASS system provides high time-resolution measurements (120s in routine operations) of the ionospheric flow vectors over an area of over 3 million km x km with a spatial resolution of order 50 km. This impressive dataset will be combined with the dense array of other geophysical and space science instrumentation in northern Scandinavia, including the international EISCAT radar facility and the EISCAT Svalbard radar, as well as spacecraft missions such as Cluster and SOHO.
This combination of instrumentation will provide many unique opportunities to greatly enhance our understanding of the ionosphere and the coupling and dynamics of the whole Solar-Terrestrial system.
The CUTLASS radars form part of SuperDARN , an international network of similar radars covering almost 180 degrees longitude in the northern hemisphere and including conjugate stations in the Antarctic. This network will for the first time offer the truly global atmospheric monitoring which is so important if we are to understand our planetary environment.
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