2017-2018 Science Planning Summaries
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2017-2018 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 begin arriving at McMurdo Station in December 2017 to install a meteor radar and antenna array. One team member will deploy from early December to late February while a second team member will deploy in mid December to support the antenna installation. Two additional team members will arrive in early January, separated by a week, to support the transmitter, receiver and computer installation, and to perform system testing and debugging. Three team members will depart in late January and one team member will stay on through February to monitor the early operations of the system. The former Department of Energy ARM Western Antarctica Radiation Experiment (DOE AWARE / O-325-M) pad adjacent to the COSRAY building has been selected as the location for the radar. An ASC research associate will be trained to oversee the radar and will collect data and mail it to the PI, as opportunity allows.

Deploying Team Members

  • Scott Palo (PI)