1. Worldwide Collaboration by Satellite and Ground-Based Space Scientists
SuperDARN convection/voltage maps are essential for studies of the impact of space weather at Earth. Space weather researchers rely on SuperDARN data for putting their localized observations in context. SuperDARN radars are extremely reliable, being easily accessible for repairs and upgrades. This reputation has made SuperDARN a favourite tool for space weather scientists.
SuperDARN is one of the most cost-effective yet scientifically productive international research programs ever deployed. A quick search for SuperDARN in the Web of Knowledge database finds over 600 SuperDARN journal articles since 1991. The authors of these papers work in 33 countries. You can see some of SuperDARN Canada’s contribution to this research (more than 150 papers!) on the publications page.
2. Enabling Research by Canadians
Of the over 600 journal articles found in Web of Knowledge, more than 150 of SuperDARN papers have authors who are researchers at Canadian institutions. These include the Universities of Saskatchewan, Calgary, Western Ontario, Alberta, New Brunswick; Natural Resources Canada; the Canadian Space Agency; and the Communications Research Centre Canada.
Why Is SuperDARN An International Effort?
1. The Satellite-Based Economy:
Nearly all international banking, internet, television and communications are done by satellite. The space environment is extremely dangerous for the delicate electronic systems on every satellite. Conditions are particularly threatening during “magnetic storms” when astronauts are required to take shelter in the ISS and transpolar airline flights are diverted to avoid the dangerous radiation from space. SuperDARN is essential to understanding how the solar wind delivers energy and momentum to the Earth and the space around it. Only when the physics behind this space weather interaction is understood can accurate models be developed and can predictions of the hazardous conditions be made, in the same way that scientists can use atmospheric weather conditions to predict the intensity, size and trajectory of hurricanes.
International scientific satellites in the Earth’s ionosphere and magnetosphere require SuperDARN’s global voltage maps to put their highly localized data in context. The global investment in all the infrastructure of the entire global SuperDARN radar network is only \(16 million, as compared to roughly \)200 million for a single satellite.
2. Space Weather Research: A Global Effort for Astronomy at the Closest Scale:
The science of the interaction between the Sun and Earth is astronomy at the closest scale—the study of space that we can touch. SuperDARN is a key contributor to the science of space weather.
Space weather research is at a very early stage—where atmospheric weather forecasting research was more than half a century ago. The system is complex, and the laboratory is the size of the entire solar system. This necessitates open international collaborations, and SuperDARN is the best instrument to make measurements of the ionospheric plasma drift on a global scale.