2017-2018 Science Planning Summaries
United States Antarctic Program United States Antarctic Program Logo National Science Foundation Logo
2017-2018 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Oblique sounding of ionized patches in the Antarctic ionosphere - instrument development and testing

no photo available


Event Number:
NSF/OPP Award 1643773

Program Manager:
Dr. Vladimir Papitashvili

ASC POC/Implementer:
Samina Ouda / Elizabeth Kauffman / Paul Sullivan

Principal Investigator

Dr. Alex T Chartier

Johns Hopkins University
Applied Physics Laboratory
Baltimore, Maryland


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station, South Pole Station
Research Locations: T-Site / Dark Sector


Ionospheric regions/structures associated with ionized patches are known to disrupt radio signals at high latitudes, which can impact search-and-rescue operations and other radio communications. Recent statistical studies showed a strong annual trend for ionized patches at ~300-km altitude, which appears to peak in the same months in the Arctic and Antarctic. This contrasts with established theories that predict seasonal trends, with patch occurrence peaks during each hemisphere’s winter. Researchers on this project hope to confirm the Antarctic patch occurrence rates using independent sounding observations, along with observations of the ionospheric electric field behavior from existing ionospheric radars.

Field Season Overview

The science team will develop a low-powered, autonomous ionosonde that will allow oblique sounding measurements of the Antarctic ionosphere between McMurdo and South Pole Stations. In the 2017-18 season, one participant will deploy in February to conduct a site visit to both McMurdo and South Pole Station to select the best options for installing the equipment the following season.

Deploying Team Members

  • Alex Chartier (PI)