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ROMFORSK-Program for romforskning

Ionospheric exploration with NorSat-1

Alternative title: Ionosfærisk utforskning med NorSat-1

Awarded: NOK 6.5 mill.

Project Number:


Project Period:

2018 - 2022

Funding received from:


In July 2017 the first Norwegian scientific satellite, NorSat-1, was launched into a 600 km altitude orbit; NorSat-1 now crosses the northern polar region every 90 minutes. On board NorSat-1 is the multi-needle Langmuir probe, an instrument developed at the University of Oslo that is capable of measuring the density of electrons in the upper atmosphere at unprecedented resolution. For the past years, NorSat-1 has delivered data, which are still in the process of being analyzed. As part of this project, studies of the plasma density irregularities in the polar and equatorial regions have been conducted, all with the support of data from other satellite missions or ground-based instruments. However, due to an anomaly rendering the satellite unable to control its orientation, no usable data was collected for parts of this project. Furthermore, the project progress was hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, significant scientific and technological advances were achieved during this project, which will not only help us in the future understanding Langmuir probe measurements from other platforms, but also feed into developing future models that will be capable of predicting the upper atmosphere's impact on satellite signals.

Prosjektet har hatt positive virkninger for begge postdocs som jobbet for prosjektet. De har utviklet sine profesjonelle ferdighetene, samt utdypt deres kompetanse i forskjellige geofysikaliske forskningsområder. Basert på erfaringene i prosjektet fikk Y. Jin pengestøtte fra ESA for å utvidde sin forskning innenfor romvær. A. Eklund sluttet tidligere enn planlagt, og jeg er sikker på at den kompetanseutviklingen som han har hatt i prosjektet hjalp ham til å få den nye jobben på SINTEF. Deres jobb i prosjektet har ført til at hele forskninggruppa her har nå en bedre forståelse av NorSat-1 dataene.

In July 2017 the first Norwegian scientific satellite, NorSat-1, will be launched into a polar low-Earth orbit. On board NorSat-1 is the multi-needle Langmuir probe, an instrument that measures the electron density with 800 Hz, achieving an unprecedented spatial resolution between measurements of less than 10 meters in the ionosphere. We will take this unique opportunity to study the cross-scale coupling between energy input due to large-scale dynamics and electron density fluctuations on the scale of the ion gyroradius by combing the NorSat-1 data with measurements from a wide range of complementary instruments. At high latitudes, we will study the NorSat-1 data in connection with observations of the Birkeland current system, of ionospheric plasma flow and temperature, and of particle precipitation. At low latitudes we will combine NorSat-1 data with measurements from ionosondes and the Jicamarca radar. Since scintillations of trans-ionospheric radio waves are ultimately caused by small-scale electron density variations, we will not only establish an understanding how energy input at large spatial scales structures the ionosphere at the smallest scale, but also enable the effective forecast of ionospheric scintillations.

Publications from Cristin

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Funding scheme:

ROMFORSK-Program for romforskning