2020-2021 Science Planning Summaries
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2020-2021 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Lower thermospheric science using new meteor radar at McMurdo Station

Graduate Researcher John Marino services the Antarctic Meteor Radar overlooking McMurdo Sound.
Photo by: Ryan Kingsbury
A-284-M Research Location(s): McMurdo Station


Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Robert Moore

ASC POC/Implementer:
John Rand / Elizabeth Kauffman

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Scott Palo
University of Colorado Boulder
Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences
Boulder, Colorado


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: McMurdo Station


This project observes the mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT) between 80 and 120 kilometers 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 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

The instrumentation for this project is located in the pass-area between McMurdo and Scott Base Stations. It runs continuously year-round, essentially autonomously, with only limited intervention required by personnel onsite and by the researchers via the internet. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no participants will deploy to service the equipment this season, and the scheduled decommissioning and removal of the equipment has been deferred to a later year. An onsite Research Associate will provide monitoring, troubleshooting, and the collection and forwarding of data as needed throughout the year.