Norway Paves the Way for Space Weather Research with Andoya Space Port and EISCAT 3D

by | Feb 10, 2023 | News Articles, Product, Space Exploration

In exploring the final frontier, Norway could lead the way in space weather research with the planned Andoya Space Port and EISCAT 3D.

Norway is actively involved in space weather research through the operation of various observatories and the proposed development of space ports. The country’s high latitude, proximity to the auroral oval, advanced infrastructure, and scientific expertise make it an ideal location for extensive space weather research. As such, Norway operates several observatories, such as the Andoya Space Center, Tromso Geophysical Observatory and Kjell Henriksen Observatory, that are equipped with state-of-the-art instruments for studying space weather and the Earth’s magnetic field. 

The Andoya Space Center, located in Andenes, is one of the world’s leading high-latitude observing sites for studying space weather and the Earth’s magnetic field. It features several state-of-the-art instruments used to study the Earth’s ionosphere and the impact of space weather on communications and navigation systems, such as the EISCAT (European Incoherent Scatter) radar. The center’s instruments allow scientists to study the Earth’s magnetic field, ionosphere, and other aspects of the Earth’s environment, helping to improve our understanding of how space weather affects our planet.

Space weather events (Source: ESA)

In addition to its scientific research mission, the Andoya Space Center is also involved in providing data and services to support space weather forecasting and mitigation efforts. This includes providing data to space weather forecasters to help improve predictions of space weather events, as well as supporting efforts to mitigate the impact of space weather on critical infrastructure, such as communications and navigation systems. The centre is actively used mainly by NASA, JAXA, DLR, Australia and Norway itself, as the space centre’s advanced instruments and scientific expertise make it a valuable resource for researchers around the world.

But that is not all. Norway is planning to expand its efforts in space weather research with the proposed construction of a new space port, Andoya Space Port, is a planned commercial space launch and landing facility in Andøya, Norway. It is being built with the aim to provide a launch and landing site for small satellites, suborbital flights, and other commercial space activities. Located in northern Norway, this space port will be well-suited for space activities due to its high latitude and proximity to the auroral oval. The area is known for its clear skies and low population density, making it an ideal location for launching and landing satellites and conducting space research.

Illustration of Andoya Space Port (Source: Andoya Space)

Equipped with advanced infrastructure and technologies, including launch pads, landing pads, and ground support equipment, the space port will be able to provide a range of services for satellite operators, including satellite launches, recovery of payloads, and satellite servicing, while offering opportunities for scientific research and technology development, such as the study of space weather and the Northern Lights. This will act as a major support for Norway’s ongoing efforts in space weather research as the port will be able to provide new data and insights into space weather and the Earth’s environment, further advancing our understanding of these important phenomena.

To boot, Norway has also been working on the EISCAT 3D technology. It is a proposed radar system that is currently under development by the European Incoherent Scatter (EISCAT) Scientific Association in Skibotn, Northern Norway. A proposed next-generation radar system for studying the Earth’s ionosphere and the impact of space weather, the technology is designed to be a three-dimensional imaging radar system that will provide multi-angle, high-resolution observations of the Earth’s ionosphere, including its response to space weather events. 

Illustration of EISCAT 3D (Source: EISCAT Scientific Association)

The EISCAT 3D system will be equipped with advanced technologies and instruments, such as phased array antennas (in three sites with over 50,000 antennas) and high-power transmitters, to provide high-resolution observations of the ionosphere. The system will also be capable of real-time data processing and analysis, allowing scientists to quickly respond to space weather events, space debris and study their impact on the Earth’s environment. The EISCAT 3D has been under construction since 2017 and we can look forward to the start of its operations in 2023.

This ambitious and exciting initiative could further Norway’s commitment to space weather research. With its advanced instruments and high-latitude location, the Andoya space port would be a world-class research facility, contributing to a better understanding of the Northern Lights and space weather, and helping to protect our planet from their effects, with the support of other unique facilities like the EISCAT 3D.

On a similar note, Dµst is a space management network that also doubles up as a space weather warning system. The Dµst Space Weather Service consists of two main elements:

  • an OpenAPI for easy integration and management of alarms, alerts and planning
  • and a Persistent Monitor that issues real-time notifications (alerts, warnings and critical information) of current space weather events in the form

These services are of particular importance to satellite operators, as phenomena occurring in Earth’s ionosphere have the potential to impact satellite operations, including communications and orbital decay. Register with Dµst Space Weather Service for further updates on space weather information and alerts.