2022-2023 Science Planning Summary
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2022-2023 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Local-scale drivers and responses of thermospheric weather above Antarctica

South Pole Telescopes. Photo by Benjamin Eberhardt, courtesy of the NSF/USAP Photo Library. Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
A-343-M/S Research Location(s): Arrival Heights; South Pole Station ARO


Event Number:
NSF / OPP Award 2029459

Program Manager:
Dr. Vladimir Papitashvili

ASC POC/Implementer:
John Rand / Randolph Jones / Paul Sullivan / Sheryl Seagraves

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Mark Gerard Conde
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Physics Department

Project Web Site:


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station, South Pole Station
Research Locations: Arrival Heights; South Pole Station ARO


This project operates and maintains ground-based Fabry-Perot spectrometers at McMurdo Station and South Pole Station. The instruments measure mesospheric and thermospheric neutral winds and temperatures at heights of around 87 km, 120 km, and 240 km. The study will address both large-scale changes in mean flow and small-scale local perturbations, and it will independently resolve impacts due to forcing from above and from below. Existing instruments will be upgraded by adding a capability to measure winds and temperatures at mesopause heights. The study will be supported by collaborative data from existing mesospheric temperature mapper and Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) radar instruments in Antarctica and will, in turn, provide neutral wind and temperature data for use by our collaborators.

Field Season Overview

This project continues operations of the Fabry-Perot spectrometers installed at McMurdo and South Pole Stations. Minor upgrades and replacements of worn components are scheduled (i.e., service mechanical parts, align and calibrate the optics, replace short-lifetime components, install new OH filters), otherwise no changes to existing conditions or support requirements are anticipated. The instruments operate autonomously with remote intervention by the PI. Some interactions with contractor technicians at the sites are required to coordinate onsite interventions as needed. The U.S. Antarctic Program will provide up to two hours/week of support by a Research Associate year-round.

Two science team members will deploy to service the instruments. They will provide their own supplies and tools. The trips require several days at each site, for a total of about two weeks in December. Typical maintenance consists of instrument maintenance and the installation of new or upgraded components.

Deploying Team Members

  • Kylee Branning
  • Cameron Westerlund