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SuperDARN in Iceland
Jan 27, 2023 | Dartmouth Engineer
Dartmouth Engineering Professor Simon Shepherd is leading a team of scientists and students to build the latest addition to the international Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN).
Since June 2021, he has traveled to Pykkvibaer, Iceland, more than a dozen times to construct a pair of high-frequency radars to measure the motion of ionized gas in the ionosphere to study geomagnetic storms and other phenomena involving plasma in the near-Earth environment that impact important infrastructure and systems such as satellite communications and energy grids.
The new arrays are similar to those he helped build—in 2009 in Kansas, in 2010 in Oregon, and in 2012 in Alaska—as part of a National Science Foundation-funded project with Virginia Tech, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. Shepherd's team completed most outdoor work in October, and he was setting up the electronics to collect data in late Fall.
"When we arrived, the site was under 6 inches of water in many places," he says. "When we began digging, the trenches immediately filled with icy water. I spent several days up to my waist holding cables down while my local crew used tractors to push dirt back in the trenches to bury the cables."
Shepherd and Virginia Tech students and colleagues successfully packed equipment into shipping containers bound for Iceland in June 2021. Shepherd designed the racks to stack and secure the equipment in place. The crew was very surprised—and pleased—when everything fit into two containers.
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