Department of Physics

Space Physics Researchers' Interpid Journey

The Space Physics Group of the Physics Department is about to send two researchers to Antarctica. The 2-man team is scheduled to travel to Scott Base on Wednesday 2 December 2009, for a brief nine day visit to the ice. Dr James Brundell, the event leader, will accompany Space Physics PhD student Mr Rory Gamble. The teams transport and on-ice support will be provided through Antarctica New Zealand Event K060.

The researchers are travelling to Antarctica to gather data from Otago's AARDDVARK radio receiver which is located at Arrival Heights, not far from Scott Base. The Space Physics group deployed this radio receiver in December 2008, and a big part of this years trip is to see how the antenna and electronics have survived a year in the very high winds and cold temperatures up at the Heights.

While Antarctica New Zealand's satellite link allows us to transfer a significant amount of the experimental observations on a daily basis, this has not been possible for all the measurements - particularly for wide-band campaign measurements undertaken to support the growing Eötvös University (Hungary) Automatic Whistler Detector (AWD) network. James and Rory should be bringing back a full-years worth of experimental measurements undertaken continuously throughout the last year.

Otago's AARDDVARK radio receiver provides continuous long-range observations of the upper atmosphere, particularly focusing on hot particles impacting the atmosphere from outer space. The receiver also continuously sends observations to the World Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN), sending lightning observations back across the internet to central processing computers in Seattle, USA (University of Washington) and Dunedin, NZ (University of Otago).


 Dr Craig Rodger (Otago) and Dr James Brundell (UltraMSK) standing amongst the pressure ridges in the sea ice just beyond Scott Base, Ross Island, Antarctica. Scott Base and Crater Hill can be seen in the background. Craig and James were in Antarctica to install an AARDDVARK receiver, with the support of Antarctica New Zealand [16 December 2008].