Space Plasma Exploration by Active Radar

Polar Bears Svalbard Map

SPEAR is a new radar system currently being built by the Radio and Space Plasma Physics (RSPP) group at University of Leicester with funding from the UK Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC).

This revolutionary new radar system is designed to carry out research into the Earth's upper atmosphere and magnetosphere, in the vicinity of the polar cap. This research will help us answer some key questions about our aerospace environment, particularly the interaction of the solar wind and the upper atmosphere as well as help work out whether solar cycle effects do contribute to climate change on Earth, as has been recently suggested by scientists from the RSPP group.

SPEAR will be located near to Longyearbyen on Svalbard (Spitzbergen) in the Scandinavian arctic some 1000 km north of mainland Norway. This region is of considerable geophysical interest and SPEAR will join a wealth of other instrumentation already deployed in this area.

Svalbard is an interesting place with a unique administrative system, a hostile climate and is noted for the large number of Polar Bears which can make it dangerous when travelling away from settlements.

SPEAR in the snow

The SPEAR system - April 2004

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