2002-2003 Science Planning Summary

Aeronomy & Astrophysics

Dr. Vladimir Papitashvili
Program Manager


NSF/OPP 98-18176
Station: McMurdo Station
RPSC POC: Doug Miller
Research Site(s): Deep field AGO sites 1, 2, and 5

Polar Experiment Network for Geophysical Upper-Atmospheric Investigations
Dr. Theodore Rosenberg
University of Maryland
Institute for Physical Science and Technology

Deploying Team Members: Rick Sterling
Research Objectives: PENGUIn (polar experimental network for geophysical upper-atmospheric investigations) is a consortium of U.S. and Japanese scientists working with a network of automatic geophysical observatories (AGOs). Six AGOs have been established at remote sites on the east antarctic polar plateau. Each observatory is equipped with a suite of instruments to measure magnetic, auroral, and radio wave phenomena. Designed to operate year-round and without human intervention, the AGOs only require annual service visits during the austral summer.

Data obtained from the AGOs help researchers understand the sun's influence on the structure and dynamics of the earth's upper atmosphere and how the solar wind couples with the earth's magnetosphere, ionosphere, and thermosphere. The ultimate objective of this research is to be able to predict solar/terrestrial interactions that can interfere with long distance phone lines, power grids, and satellite communications.

When combined with measurements made at other non-autonomous stations, the AGO arrays facilitate studies on the energetics and dynamics of the high-latitude magnetosphere, on both large and small scales. The research will be carried out with in situ observations of the geospace environment by spacecraft in close cooperation with other nations working in Antarctica and in conjunction with conjugate studies at northern hemisphere sites. PENGUIn AGO data is sent to Augsburg College in Minnesota where it is processed and distributed to PENGUIn investigators.

Field Season Overview:
This project will continue the acquisition of upper atmospheric physics data from the instruments deployed at three of the Automated Geophysical Obervatory sites (AGO 1, 2, and 5). A team chosen by the PI will service each of the AGOs this season. The season's primary objectives are to convert these three AGOs to solar power only, and to convert the data processing system from a hard disk storage device to an Iridium data link device. This conversion will allow the capture of real-time data from the AGO's while also improving the power system performance. AGO's 3, 4, and 6 will not be serviced this season while plans are made to remove those stations from the field.

Transportation to and from the AGO sites will be via fixed-wing aircraft.