Canada is a founding member of SuperDARN. The original SuperDARN partners (Canada, France and the USA) met in Saskatoon in 1993 to switch on the first Canadian SuperDARN radar. The Saskatoon radar continues to operate to this day. Appropriately, SuperDARN Canada headquarters is located at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.
Canada has the largest land mass under the auroral oval (an oval shaped region around the geomagnetic pole where the aurora most commonly occurs), therefore Canada is an ideal place to study the solar-terrestrial (Sun-Earth) interaction. SuperDARN Canada operates five SuperDARN radars that cover an area centred on the interaction region between the solar wind and the Earth’s space environment. These five radars provide essential information about solar wind energy and momentum transport in near-Earth space.
The Canadian SuperDARN team is always seeking to improve the radars with innovative new radar technology. Canadian-designed engineering solutions, such as a new wire antenna system and a digital radar beam-forming electronics system, have made Canada’s upgraded SuperDARN radars state-of-the-art; Canada is one of the leaders in SuperDARN technology.
The University of Saskatchewan plays a central role in enabling SuperDARN science by supporting the SuperDARN International Data Copy and Distribution Facility for the global network of SuperDARN collaborators. The collection and distribution of processed data from a central location improves the overall reliability of the SuperDARN data and enables all partners to enable the open data sharing.
Why Is SuperDARN Important for Canada?
The technologically driven and dependant world we live in is vulnerable to the phenomena of near-Earth space environment. In order to mitigate detrimental effects of Space Weather, it is imperative to understand the Sun-Earth system. Canada, as a Northern nation, relies heavily on technology that is vulnerable to Space Weather effects (effects like: pipeline corrosion, damage to the electrical power grids, degradation of satellite navigation (e.g. GPS) accuracy, loss of radio communications, radiation from space causing polar flights to be diverted, and damage to telecommunications satellites that facilitate billions of dollars of business every day).
SuperDARN is also an important part of the national scientific program Geospace Observatory (GO) Canada, spanning five universities and three government departments, and SuperDARN is essential for support of the Canadian satellite mission ePOP and ESA’s Swarm satellite mission.
Canada has been the sole contributor to the important Arctic component of the international SuperDARN program, with the most northerly radars at Rankin Inlet, Inuvik, and Clyde River. The Canadian SuperDARN radar sites are established physical presences in the Canadian High Arctic. Canada plays an irreplaceable role in the SuperDARN collaboration by providing coverage of the High Arctic!