2016-2017 Science Planning Summaries
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2016-2017 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Application of the AGO network to energy transfer in the radiation belts and remote sensing of auroral plasma processes

Antenna in the Science Quadrant at South Pole, used for detectiing radio waves emitted by the Southern Lights.
Photo by Ethan Good


Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Vladimir Papitashvili

ASC POC/Implementer:
Samina Ouda / Paul Sullivan

Principal Investigator

Dr. James LaBelle

Dartmouth College
Department of Physics & Astronomy
Hanover, New Hampshire

Project Web Site:


Supporting Stations: South Pole Station
Research Locations: AGO sites


This project addresses questions about energy transfer in the Earth's radiation belts and auroral plasma physics. Energetic plasma interacting with the geomagnetic field in the near-Earth space (geospace) environment emits electromagnetic waves across the radio spectrum. Ground-based measurements of these waves are used as diagnostic tools to investigate various processes in geospace. This investigation takes advantage of an existing network of radio receivers at Automated Geophysical Observatory (AGO) sites located from -70° to -85° of invariant geomagnetic latitude and operating in the frequency range from extra-low to high frequencies. The Antarctic continent is ideally suited for these types of natural radio wave experiments since it is largely devoid of anthropogenic electromagnetic interference such as radio-frequency broadcast transmissions. The project will focus on studies of three geophysically important plasma waves: chorus waves, auroral hiss, and auroral kilometric radiation (AKR). Chorus waves are believed to be a major driver of radiation belt electron acceleration and loss. The auroral hiss and AKR waves are generated in the auroral acceleration region and have the potential to be used for remote sensing of this complex and poorly understood near-Earth region.

Field Season Overview

No science personnel will deploy this season. On-station science technicians will continue to support instrument calibration and data collection.