2016-2017 Science Planning Summaries
United States Antarctic Program United States Antarctic Program Logo National Science Foundation Logo
2016-2017 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Lower thermospheric science using new meteor radars at McMurdo Station

no photo available


Event Number:
NSF/OPP Award 1543446

Program Manager:
Dr. Vladimir Papitashvili

ASC POC/Implementer:
Samina Ouda / Elizabeth Kauffman / Chad Naughton

Principal Investigator

Dr. Scott Palo

University of Colorado Boulder
Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences
Boulder, Colorado

Project Web Site:


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: On station


This project will observe the mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT) at an altitude between 80 and 120 km above the earth. This is a highly dynamic region that couples the lower terrestrial atmosphere with the upper atmosphere near- earth space environment. Of particular importance in this region are both the upward propagating thermally forced atmospheric tides, global-scale planetary waves, and small-scale gravity waves. All these phenomena transport heat and momentum from the lower atmosphere into the upper atmosphere. The primary goal of this research is to observe, quantify, model, and further understand the spatial-temporal structure and variability of the MLT circulation above Antarctica.

Field Season Overview

A science team of four participants will be at McMurdo Station in November 2016 to install a meteor radar at McMurdo. The installation should take approximately three to four weeks, followed on by a three to four week system testing and burn-in period. They will need a 50 m x 50 m area and an area or small dedicated building where the radar transmitter, computer and receiver can be located. It will need to be temperature controlled and large enough that a technician can work comfortably. Internet access is necessary to monitor the radar remotely and uplink data. Between 10MB and 1GB/day is required for the data uplink. Raw data will be stored on site and collected annually. Power required between 3 to 5kW at either 110 or 220VAC. Research Associate support will be required every season and during the winter. The Research Associate will be trained for overseeing the radar over the winter for approximately four hours per week. The system can be monitored remotely by the PI. Approximately 200GB/year of data will be collected.

Deploying Team Members

  • Scott Palo (PI)
  • Damian VanBuren