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The history of Andøya Rocket Range


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Just 5 years after Sputnik, on 18 August 1962, Norway launched the first sounding rocket from Andøya in northern Norway. The establishment of Andøya Rocket Range (ARR), in the Arctic and right in the middle of the night-time auroral zone, gave the scientists unique opportunities for studies of the complex processes in the auroral ionosphere and upper atmosphere. In close cooperation with the users, ARR gradually developed its technical and scientific infrastructure and is now one of the world's leading observatories in this field. ARR has also established a launch site at Svalbard, and sounding rockets from both ranges can reach far into the Arctic to study the cusp region and the daytime aurora. The ground-based instruments comprise sophisticated radars and lidars as well as passive instruments. ARR also plays an active role in space education. In 2014 Andøya Rocket Range changed its name to Andøya Space Center (ASC;, last access: 23 November 2018). This change reflects the fact that the activities now comprise much more than sounding rocket launches. ASC is an important company both nationally and in the local community of Andenes. ASC now has a staff of 95 and an annual turnover of NOK 150 million.
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Hist. Geo Space Sci., 9, 141–156, 2018
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The history of Andøya Rocket Range
Eivind V. Thrane1,a,b,*
1University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
aformerly at: Norwegian Defence Research Est., Kjeller, Norway
bformerly at: Andøya Rocket Range, Andøya, Norway
Correspondence: Eivind V. Thrane (
Received: 15 September 2018 – Accepted: 22 November 2018 – Published: 7 December 2018
Abstract. Just 5 years after Sputnik, on 18 August 1962, Norway launched the first sounding rocket from
Andøya in northern Norway. The establishment of Andøya Rocket Range (ARR), in the Arctic and right in
the middle of the night-time auroral zone, gave the scientists unique opportunities for studies of the complex
processes in the auroral ionosphere and upper atmosphere. In close cooperation with the users, ARR gradually
developed its technical and scientific infrastructure and is now one of the world’s leading observatories in this
field. ARR has also established a launch site at Svalbard, and sounding rockets from both ranges can reach
far into the Arctic to study the cusp region and the daytime aurora. The ground-based instruments comprise
sophisticated radars and lidars as well as passive instruments. ARR also plays an active role in space education.
In 2014 Andøya Rocket Range changed its name to Andøya Space Center (ASC;,
last access: 23 November 2018). This change reflects the fact that the activities now comprise much more than
sounding rocket launches. ASC is an important company both nationally and in the local community of Andenes.
ASC now has a staff of 95 and an annual turnover of NOK 150million.
1 Background
On 18 August 1962 the first sounding rocket was launched
from Andøya Rocket Range (ARR), just 5 years after the
launch of Sputnik 1 initiated the space age. Several factors
contributed to the rapid establishment of a sounding rocket
launch facility in northern Norway.
Firstly, Norway has a long tradition in observations of the
aurora borealis, and indeed professor Kristian Birkeland is
regarded as one of the founders of modern space physics.
At the University of Oslo, auroral research started with the
pioneering work of Birkeland, Carl Størmer and Lars Veg-
ard. In 1928 the Northern Lights Observatory in Tromsø was
established with Leiv Harang as its first director. Norway’s
geographical position is ideal for studies of the aurora bore-
alis and the Arctic ionosphere. Thus, the zone of maximum
occurrence of the night-time aurora is located over north-
ern Norway, and during daytime the auroral zone is located
above Svalbard, an archipelago under Norwegian jurisdic-
tion (Feldstein, 1964). For Norwegian scientists, the sound-
ing rockets offered new unique opportunities for in situ ex-
ploration of the aurora, and indeed the application of these
tools rapidly provided a breakthrough in our scientific under-
standing of the phenomenon.
Secondly, ionospheric variations associated with the au-
rora have great practical consequences for radio communica-
tion and navigation systems. Before the space age, such sys-
tems depended to a large extent upon waves reflected from
the ionosphere; in and near the auroral zone, rapid varia-
tions of reflection height, and scattering and strong absorp-
tion of the radio signals can cause severe problems. For ex-
ample, strong absorption of high-frequency (HF) waves can
wipe out communication for days and weeks, and the ac-
curacy of low-frequency and very low frequency naviga-
tion systems such as LORAN-C and OMEGA can deterio-
rate significantly. Obviously, both civilian and military users
needed new knowledge that could lead to better predictions
of such disturbances and to mitigation of their effects, for ex-
ample by development of new signal processing technology.
The Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) was
founded in 1946 and had carried out extensive ground-based
Published by Copernicus Publications.
142 E. V. Thrane: The history of Andøya Rocket Range
experimental studies of radio wave propagation through the
middle- and high-latitude ionosphere.
The first American satellite, Explorer-1, was launched in
January 1958 and radically changed our views of the Earth’s
upper atmosphere and its transition into interplanetary space.
Both scientifically and politically the time was ripe for scien-
tific studies exploiting the opportunities offered by the devel-
opment of the new space technology. In January 1960 the
Norwegian Research Council for Science and Technology
(NTNF) formed a space science exploratory committee, fol-
lowing an initiative taken by Finn Lied, director of FFI and
professor Svein Rosseland of the University of Oslo. The
mandate of the new committee (chaired by Rosseland) was
to propose steps that should be taken to develop space sci-
ence on a national basis and how, and to what extent, Norway
should participate in international collaboration in the field.
Two of the recommendations were that satellite and sounding
rocket technology should be used for scientific purposes, and
that a rocket range should be established in northern Norway.
Such a range would attract foreign space scientists and thus
stimulate international collaboration.
In 1960 Dr Bjørn Landmark of FFI and Dr S. Fred Singer,
a US scientist from NASA, toured northern Norway to find
a suitable location for a rocket range. Their recommendation
was Andøya, an island in the Vesterålen archipelago. Here,
only 6 km from the small town of Andenes at the northern tip
of the island, they found a secluded bay backed by shelter-
ing mountains and facing northwards towards the Norwegian
Sea. The location (69170N, 16010E) was advantageous for
several reasons: it was in the centre of the night-time auro-
ral zone, it had a very large downrange impact area to the
north with little ship traffic, it was to a certain degree shel-
tered by the mountains from the winds, and it was close to the
large military airfield at Andenes. The local name of the bay
was Oksebåsen. This name may be interpreted as “the bull’s
pen”, although its origin is uncertain. In any case Norwegian
scientists chose to name their rockets after Ferdinand, the
legendary peaceful bull who loved flowers, not fights. Thus,
during the cold war, the point was made that the aim of the
new Andøya Rakettskytefelt (legal name), or Andøya Rocket
Range, was to conduct basic research for peaceful purposes.
A permanent Norwegian Committee for Space Research
was established under NTNF in January 1961, and the pay-
load for the first rocket, Ferdinand 1, was developed and
instrumented as a Danish–Norwegian project. Contact with
NASA was also made, and the total project was formalized
by a trilateral agreement between NTNF, the Danish Iono-
spheric Laboratory and NASA. The project encompassed a
series of eight sounding rocket launches, six from Andøya
and two from Wallops Island. The first payload included
a radio wave experiment to measure electron density and
electron-neutral collision frequency in the lower ionosphere
and instruments to determine the trajectory. In subsequent
launches photometers and particle detectors were added.
NASA supplied the telemetry on the ground and in the pay-
loads. A two-stage rocket configuration, a Nike-Cajun, was
chosen for the first launches. After a remarkably short and
hectic time of preparation, on 18 August 1962 at 07:09 local
time, Ferdinand 1 was successfully launched to an altitude of
101.5 km. Norway had entered the space age.
2 The early development of ARR
Describing the facilities for the first rocket launch as prim-
itive might be an understatement. NASA supplied a simple
telemetry station. A small launcher was developed and built
by the Christian Michelsen Institute (CMI) in Bergen. The
firing panel, also supplied by NASA, was set up outdoors.
It was, after all, summer! A few small buildings were set
up. One of them is still in use. FFI was responsible for the
launch, for the mechanical structure of the payload and for
the trajectory determination. The experiments were devel-
oped by Danish and Norwegian scientists and engineers. Fig-
ure 1 shows the launcher with Ferdinand 1 and Egil Eriksen
(FFI) at the launch panel.
In parallel, Professor Harald Trefall of the University of
Bergen had established a launch and telemetry station for
stratospheric balloons at Andenes. The first balloon for stud-
ies of cosmic radiation was launched just 1 month after the
launch of Ferdinand 1. Later balloon campaigns could use
the facilities at the rocket range.
From these simple beginnings, the systems were rapidly
developed. In 1965 the activities were restructured. NTNF
set up a new committee for space applications with subcom-
mittees for space research and industrial space applications.
A new NTNF department for space activities, NTNFR, was
established. At Andenes, a new Norwegian-built telemetry
station was ready in 1964, and NTNF took over the opera-
tion of the range.
The first operations were carried out by personnel from
FFI and the universities, with valuable assistance from the
military airbase, Andøya Flystasjon. Key people in this work
were Bjørn Landmark, Egil Strømsø, Egil Eriksen and Jan
Trøim from FFI, and Odd Dahl and Asbjørn Søreide from
CMI. Soon there was an obvious need for permanent staff at
the range. The numbers gradually increased, and in 1972 the
staff numbered 18 people. From 1967 Arne Gundersen from
NTNFR was head of ARR, a position he held until 1989,
when he was succeeded by Kolbjørn Adolfsen.
In the years 1969 to 1970, ARR changed significantly. A
technical development was needed to accommodate larger
rockets and more complex payloads. NTNF supplied a loan
of NOK 4.5 million. The aim was to make the range attrac-
tive to potential users, so that an income could be secured.
The investment included new buildings, new launchers and a
new telemetry station. Figure 2 shows two stages of develop-
ment of the infrastructure.
Hist. Geo Space Sci., 9, 141–156, 2018
E. V. Thrane: The history of Andøya Rocket Range 143
Figure 1. Preparations for the launch of Ferdinand 1.
Figure 2. Buildings in 1962 and 1970.
3 International collaboration
The history of Andøya Rocket Range is an interesting exam-
ple of how a small nation can make an impact in science
and technology on the international scene. The space sci-
ence exploratory committee saw the opportunities and acted
swiftly. It was important to exploit the new technology. In
auroral and ionospheric physics, Norway had the advantage
of a solid scientific tradition, combined with a geographical
position that offered unique opportunities for experimental
studies. Instrumented rockets and satellites opened a window
to a part of the atmosphere totally unexplored by in situ mea-
surements. Even the simplest experiment could give new, and
sometimes unexpected, results. No wonder that atmospheric
and ionospheric scientists were eager to exploit the opportu-
nities offered.
In the case of ARR, international collaboration was there
from the start, through the trilateral agreement between
NASA, NTNF and the Danish Ionospheric Research Labo-
ratory. In 1960 the Scandinavian Working Group for Space
Research was formed with participation from Sweden, Den-
mark and Norway. This group was important in the planning
of future collaboration in Scandinavian sounding rocket re-
search. Denmark and Sweden were members in the newly
formed European Space Research Organisation (ESRO).
ESRO had considered Andøya as its base for sounding rock-
ets but decided that a site near Kiruna in Sweden was a better
alternative. For this reason, Sweden did not participate in the
first five rocket launches from ARR. However, the new ES-
RANGE was not operative until 1966, and Kiruna Geophys-
ical Observatory, KGO, accepted an invitation to launch an
instrument in Ferdinand 6. This was the start of a long-lasting
Scandinavian collaboration that later included launches from
both rocket ranges. ESRO launched three campaigns from
ARR during the period 1966–1972. In 1972, ESRO discon-
tinued its research using sounding rockets, but several mem-
ber countries wanted to continue such research at high lat-
itudes. The ESRANGE Special Project was launched as an
agreement between Sweden on one side and Belgium, the
Netherlands, France, Switzerland, the UK and Germany on
the other. Norway was not an ESRO member but participated
through a special deal with Sweden. The project included
40 weeks of operation per year from ESRANGE and ARR. Hist. Geo Space Sci., 9, 141–156, 2018
144 E. V. Thrane: The history of Andøya Rocket Range
In the early years, groups at FFI and the universities
in Oslo and Bergen developed scientific and technological
methods to study the ionosphere and upper atmosphere with
sounding rockets. These skills, combined with the unique lo-
cation and improved services of the ARR, turned out to be
very effective in attracting partners from the international
community, just as predicted by the first Norwegian space
committee. Indeed, national and international collaboration
has been essential for success. A large network of users grad-
ually developed. Groups in the US, Austria, Germany, the
UK, France and Scandinavia were particularly important in
this context.
The key to success was to address a scientific problem by
combining complementary skills, experience and resources
of ARR and the different participating groups to form an ef-
fective campaign. The extensive German–Norwegian collab-
oration may serve as an example of how this system worked:
1. The scientists decided on a sounding rocket payload
with a set of instruments needed to address a scientific
problem area. A reasonable formula for the cost sharing
between the participating groups was decided upon and
formed the basis for applications to the national funding
2. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) supplied the
rocket motor(s).
3. CMI was responsible for the mechanical structure of the
4. FFI was responsible for the telemetry and electrical in-
tegration of the payload.
5. ARR was responsible for the launch services.
6. Finally, the scientists jointly analysed the data and pub-
lished the results.
This type of collaboration turned out to be very advan-
tageous for ARR. It allowed the groups and organizations
to specialize in scientific and technological disciplines and
to combine these skills in an effective way. For the range,
the challenge was to develop its services to anticipate and
meet the requirements of the customers. NASA, DLR, CMI
and FFI were particularly important partners in the techno-
logical development of range facilities. Interaction with all
scientific groups using the range contributed to the knowl-
edge and skills of the range personnel. A complete list of
the customers of ARR/ASC would be very long and include
groups from many European countries, as well as from the
US, Canada and Japan (Thrane, 2003).
4 Further development of ARR infrastructure
Even though the development of the range facilities was
a continuous process, a few important milestones should
Figure 3. Recovery operation.
be mentioned. In 1976 the User Science Operation Centre
(USOC) was finished. This will be described in Sect. 7.3.
In 1989 Kolbjørn Adolfsen took over as head of ARR, and
a new building with accommodation for visitors and a sec-
tion for education was finished. Comfortable and convenient
living quarters at the range made life much easier for partici-
pants in the campaigns. A new section for education marked
a beginning for activities that will be described in Sect. 8. In
1996 a new launcher was delivered for rockets weighing up
to 20 t.
In 1990 a system for sea recovery of smaller rocket
payloads was developed in a collaboration between DLR,
CMI and FFI. The system was first used in the German–
Norwegian TURBO campaign to study turbulence in the
mesosphere (Lübken et al., 1998). The payloads were sep-
arated from the single-stage motors after burnout and carried
a parachute and floatation bag system. They were picked up
from the sea by a fishing vessel with the appropriate equip-
ment. Some of the payloads were launched many times, sav-
ing construction costs and preparation time. One payload
was, in fact, launched twice in 24 h.
While Andøya is ideally situated for studies of the night-
time aurora, the Svalbard archipelago lies in the daytime
part of the auroral oval. A rocket launch site at Svalbard
would therefore offer new and unique opportunities for
scientific investigation. After a few years of preparation,
ARR opened a new rocket launch facility at Ny-Ålesund
(78560N, 11510E) in November 1997. The first rocket, IS-
BJØRN 1, carried a Norwegian-built payload, and the cam-
paign comprised two Norwegian and two NASA rockets.
Svalbard Rocket Range (SvalRak) ushered in a new era in
auroral and magnetospheric research.
For many years “Norwegian” rocket payloads were
planned and built by the groups at FFI, CMI and the univer-
sities before they were brought to ARR for final testing and
launch. Many of these rockets were one of a kind, with pay-
loads developed for highly specialized studies. To cut costs
Hist. Geo Space Sci., 9, 141–156, 2018
E. V. Thrane: The history of Andøya Rocket Range 145
Figure 4. Ny-Ålesund launch site.
and development time, there was a need for a standardized
payload that could easily be adapted to specific scientific in-
vestigations. It would also be advantageous if such payloads
could be assembled and tested at ARR. Therefore, in collab-
oration with FFI and CMI, ARR introduced the “hotel pay-
load” concept. This payload has standard basic functions,
such as telemetry, mechanical structure, and power supply.
The scientists can “rent” space for instruments in the “ho-
tel” and specify the launch conditions. The technical exper-
tise needed for mechanical and electronic integration of such
payloads was gradually transferred from FFI and CMI to
ARR. The first hotel payload was successfully launched from
Svalbard in 2005, and today ARR has technical facilities in
house needed for such services (https://www.andoyaspace.
no/hotel-payload/, last access: 5 December 2018).
5 The rocket launches
The statistics of rocket launches from ARR and SvalRak
provide an interesting overview of the life and times of the
ranges. Figure 5 shows the number of instrumented rockets
launched per year from 1962 to the present. The red columns
show the total number; the blue columns show the number
of rockets carrying payloads built by Norwegian groups. The
first 10 years were particularly hectic, with an extensive use
of the range by the international community, mainly under
the umbrella of the ESRANGE Special Project and the col-
laboration with NASA. During the next 20 years the focus
was on the middle atmosphere and lower ionosphere. Under
the auspices of COSPAR (Committee for Space Research)
and SCOSTEP (Scientific Committee for Solar-Terrestrial
Physics) the Middle Atmosphere Programme (MAP) and
Middle Atmosphere Cooperation (MAC) were organized. A
series of important international campaigns were carried out
in this context, and ARR played an important role. The cam-
paigns are listed in Appendix A. The ARR facilities made
it possible to launch many rockets in intensive, dedicated
studies of selected ionospheric/atmospheric phenomena. The
Norwegian scientists at FFI and the universities in Oslo,
Figure 5. Total number of instrumented rockets launched (red
columns) and number of payloads built in Norway (blue columns).
Figure 6. The development of the ARR telemetry capacity since
1980 (Courtesy of Tom Arild Blix FFI).
Bergen and later Tromsø built a significant number of pay-
loads, as illustrated in Fig. 5.
FFI established a group that specialized in payload integra-
tion, and the mechanical structures were developed at CMI.
In general, nearly all payloads launched from ARR carried
instruments from different nations. A wide range of scien-
tific problems were addressed. These could, in broad terms,
be divided into two fields:
in situ studies of ionospheric and auroral processes,
in situ studies of the middle atmosphere and lower iono-
The first field needed rockets with high apogees from 140 km
to more than 1000 km. 144 such rockets have been launched.
For the second field, apogees of 100–140 km would be ad-
equate, and the number of launches is 196. Figure 7 shows
different types of trajectories that can be used from the two
ranges. Several rockets have been launched from Andøya
with apogees of about 1400 km over Svalbard and impacts
far into the polar region. Hist. Geo Space Sci., 9, 141–156, 2018
146 E. V. Thrane: The history of Andøya Rocket Range
Figure 7. Types of rocket trajectories.
The high-altitude rockets in general carried more instru-
ments and had longer flight times. Thus, from a scientific
point of view, there has been a reasonable balance between
the two, partly overlapping, research areas.
An important supplement to the instrumented rockets was
the use of meteorological rockets. These were small, one-
stage rockets that reached altitudes of 100–110 km. They car-
ried no active instruments, but near apogee they released a
falling sphere or a cloud of aluminium chaff. As the sphere or
chaff fell through the mesosphere, their motion was tracked
from the ground by radar, and wind, density and tempera-
ture profiles could be derived. A very powerful and advanced
radar system was required, and an MPS36 radar was nor-
mally supplied by DLR. Figure 8 shows the number of me-
teorological rockets launched from ARR and SvalRak. The
use of such rockets provided very valuable information for
many years. Also, Professor Ove Havnes and his group at
the University of Tromsø, with the help of FFI, developed
instrumented mini-payloads that could be launched on the
small rocket motors. This development was a real techni-
cal challenge because the payloads had to withstand tremen-
dous acceleration and heat load during launch. The advantage
was that the motors were cheap and the launchers small and
portable. Some interesting measurements were made in the
mesosphere with this technique (Mortensen et al., 1997).
Unfortunately, rocket motors of this type are no longer
As stated earlier, ARR was always dedicated to the
peaceful exploration of space, with sounding rockets as its
most important tools. Nevertheless, a curious incident made
news headlines all over the world and made ARR famous
overnight. On 25 January 1995 at 06:24:08UT a Black
Figure 8. Total number of meteorological rockets launched.
Brant B XII four-stage sounding rocket was launched from
Andøya. The payload reached an apogee of 1364.5 km and
landed well north of Svalbard. This was the largest sounding
rocket launched from the European mainland. However, Rus-
sian news media reported that the Russian armed forces had
identified it as a possible enemy missile heading for Russia.
President Yeltsin confirmed that he had opened his “black
briefcase” to be used for enabling a nuclear attack. Of course,
the trajectory was nowhere near Russian territory, and ARR
had given the Russians prior notice according to established
routines. Still, the incident was a reminder that space explo-
ration can be a politically sensitive issue (Collett, 1995).
Figure 5 shows that since the late 1980s the annual number
of launches has been quite stable, between two and seven.
This indicates that the scientific interest in using rockets
as well as the available funding has been stable. However,
in terms of scientific results, just counting the number of
launches is misleading. There has been a continual techno-
logical development allowing a miniaturization of electronic
circuitry, detectors and mechanical components. Thus, the
payloads can carry more instruments with ever-increasing
data sampling rates. This means improved capabilities to
study fine-scale variations of atmospheric parameters in time
and space. This development must be matched by increased
telemetry rates in the payload and on the ground. The capa-
bilities of the ARR telemetry services can therefore serve as
a rough measure of the scientific yield. Figure 6 shows that
the information flow from a rocket payload has risen dramat-
ically in the last 2 decades.
As will be discussed in Sect. 11, the sounding rocket
launches from ARR/ASC have provided very important sci-
entific results. In addition, planning, building and launch-
ing the payloads have been essential for training scientists
and technologist in general space science. A sounding rocket
project can be implemented in a short time period and is
therefore well suited for master’s and PhD students. Launch-
ing a satellite is much more expensive and time consuming.
Implementation of a sounding rocket programme is therefore
an important part of space education.
Hist. Geo Space Sci., 9, 141–156, 2018
E. V. Thrane: The history of Andøya Rocket Range 147
Figure 9. Balloon launch from the airfield at Andenes.
6 The balloons
In the early 1960s a research group was established at
the University of Bergen to study solar cosmic radiation
with stratospheric balloons. In 1962 the first balloons were
launched from Andenes and Bergen. This activity provided
important information on the morphology of the precipitation
of solar energetic electrons by measuring bremsstrahlung X-
rays produced by the precipitation (Bjordal et al., 1971). The
balloons were typically 5000–37 000 m3and floated in the
height region 35–40 km. In summer, the balloons would drift
towards Greenland and Canada. In winter they drifted east-
wards towards Sweden, Finland and Russia. The instrument
payloads were taken down in parachutes for reuse in new bal-
loons. Figure 9 shows one of the largest balloons launched
from Andøya.
The state and development of the stratospheric ozone
layer was studied by launching small instrumented bal-
loons from Andøya. This project was started in 1995 and
was part of the French balloon programme led by Profes-
sor Jean-Pierre Pommereau (
profile/J-P_Pommereau, last access: 5 December 2018).
7 Ground-based scientific instrumentation.
A sounding rocket provides a detailed snapshot of selected
physical parameters along the trajectory. There is obviously
a need for monitoring the time development of the state of
the upper atmosphere before, during and after the launch.
Ground-based and satellite measurements are needed to de-
termine the optimum launch conditions and to interpret the
rocket measurements. At the very beginning a riometer and
a magnetometer were the only instruments available at the
range itself for determining the optimum launch conditions.
The Auroral Observatory in Tromsø – 120km east of the
rocket range, with its complement of optical, radio and mag-
netic measurements – could assist, but there was no real-time
transfer of data except by telephone. In addition, the experi-
menters would bring their own support instruments, such as
all-sky cameras and auroral spectrometers. Gradually, ARR,
in close collaboration with its customers, built up a ground-
based scientific infrastructure that could provide better de-
termination of the launch conditions, as well as easier and
more precise interpretation of the data from the rocket-borne
probes. In the following we shall briefly review the develop-
ment of this important part of the ARR activities.
7.1 Arctic Lidar Observatory for Middle Atmosphere
Research (ALOMAR)
The development of laser technology offered new opportu-
nities for atmospheric studies. A lidar (light detection and
ranging) is an instrument that uses pulsed laser beams. The
light pulses are launched into the atmosphere and are scat-
tered back from air atoms, molecules and particles. Analy-
sis of the returned signals yields a host of detailed informa-
tion about the state of the atmosphere up to a height of about
110 km. In 1984 Prof. Ulf von Zahn and his group at Bonn
University (BU) established the first lidar at ARR in a small
building at the range and found that the technique was a very
powerful tool for studies of the middle atmosphere despite
the variable weather conditions in the Arctic winter.
In 1991 Prof. von Zahn (later director of the Institut für
Atmosphärenphysik (IAP) in Kühlungsborn) contacted FFI Hist. Geo Space Sci., 9, 141–156, 2018
148 E. V. Thrane: The history of Andøya Rocket Range
Figure 10. ALOMAR, the most important ground-based observatory at ARR/ASC. Two laser beams are visible.
(Eivind Thrane) and ARR (Kolbjørn Adolfsen) with the mes-
sage that he could obtain two large high-quality astronomical
mirrors and that he proposed to build a lidar observatory at
ARR. A German–Norwegian working group was quickly es-
tablished, and a site on the mountain Ramnan near the range
was selected for the observatory. The location was chosen
because it had an unrestricted view of the sky and because
the sensitive optical instruments were away from the salt
and sand spray from the beaches. The building was financed
through Norwegian sources, and the first instruments were
a complex German Rayleigh–Mie–Raman (RMR) lidar us-
ing the two steerable mirrors, and a Norwegian ozone lidar.
However, soon other scientific groups joined. ALOMAR was
established as an international observatory and was opened
in 1994, only 3 years after its inception (see Figs. 10 and
11;, last access: 5 Decem-
ber 2018).
The lidars soon proved to be very useful during rocket
campaigns, also because they could determine atmospheric
conditions along, or close to, the rocket trajectory. However,
ALOMAR has been a great success, not only in support of
rocket launches but also as a unique instrument for studying
the middle atmosphere. Now, ALOMAR is a department of
Andøya Space Center, and all the ground-based scientific
infrastructure belong in this department. From 1993 to
date 490 scientific articles have been published based upon
ALOMAR-related measurements. Please see the following
links for more information:
en/research/publications/alomar/ (last access: 5 Decem-
ber 2018),
(last access: 5 December 2018), https://www.iap-
und-hoehenforschungsraketen/instrumenteundmodelle/ (last
access: 5 December 2018).
7.2 The radars
Remote-sensing radars are important for studies of the iono-
sphere and upper atmosphere and are very useful in combi-
nation with in situ rocket experiments. In 1978 the first real-
time data transmission from the partial-reflection medium-
frequency radar at Ramfjord near Tromsø to ARR was car-
ried out during a rocket campaign. This radar was operated
by the University of Tromsø. The data provided real-time
information on the electron density profile in the Dregion
and on the presence of irregularities/turbulence in this re-
gion. The availability of such data proved to be very use-
ful; in fact, two rockets were successfully launched during
the test countdown! In 1981, the European Incoherent Scatter
Facility (EISCAT) radar started operations, also at Ramfjord.
This facility could monitor the state of the ionosphere over a
wide height range and could provide valuable assistance to
ARR in the determination of launch conditions. In 1996 the
EISCAT site at Svalbard was inaugurated with two incoher-
ent scatter radars near Longyearbyen. When the first rockets
were launched from Ny-Ålesund in 1993, these radars were
being tested and provided valuable information on the state
of the ionosphere (, last access: 5 De-
cember 2018).
Hist. Geo Space Sci., 9, 141–156, 2018
E. V. Thrane: The history of Andøya Rocket Range 149
Figure 11. The present partners in ALOMAR.
During the MAP/WINE (Winter in Northern Europe) cam-
paign in the winter of 1983/84, a mobile very high frequency
(VHF) radar was used at ARR for the first time to study the
dynamic properties and detailed structure of the middle at-
mosphere (see references in Appendix A). As the science
and technology of atmospheric radars were further devel-
oped, this radar was replaced by the ALWIN and later the
MARSSY radars (Fig. 12).
In addition, two MF (partial-reflection) radars and a me-
teor radar were installed near the range.
7.3 User Science Operation Centre (USOC)
In 1978 ARR established an operation centre for the users.
In a separate building, relevant information from the ground-
based instruments was collected and displayed so that the
scientists could have easy access to the available scientific
information needed to determine the optimal launch condi-
tions. USOC was modernized in 1995 and then again in 2005
with more modern screen projection techniques. Finally, it
was moved to the main building in 2012. It is now a very
sophisticated facility with Internet access to information the
customer wishes to display (Fig. 13). The situation during a
countdown is often complex and hectic, and the new USOC
significantly enhances the chances of success.
The unique possibility for combining real-time measure-
ments by scientific instruments on sounding rockets, satel-
lites and the ground has been and is a very valuable asset that
ARR/ASC can offer its customers, the scientists. Figure 14
gives an overview of the infrastructure.
8 Space education
Andenes is a small community located at the northern tip of
the island of Andøya. Fishing and the fishing industry are
important, and the military airbase also provided jobs and
a source of income for the inhabitants. The establishment of
ARR only 6 km from the village centre soon proved to be im-
portant for the community. The work at the range and at the
airbase required personnel with training and skills in technol-
ogy, and it would seem reasonable that the local high school
should teach elementary courses in this field. It was impor-
tant to interest young people so that they could study and
qualify for exciting job opportunities in the local society. In
1988 the high school at Andenes, in collaboration with ARR,
started work to include a course in space technology in the
formal school curriculum. At a more advanced level, ARR
was also in contact with Narvik University College, where
courses in space technology at university level were initiated.
At a national level, Norwegian space activities were in-
creasing rapidly and the need for recruitment was evident.
At ARR it was realized that the facilities at the range, com-
bined with the skills of the competent staff, offered unique
opportunities for education in space science and technology.
On 7 July 2000, NAROM (National Center for Space-related
Education) was formally established. It was situated at and
owned by ARR and received annual funding from the Nor-
wegian government. Its purpose was to use the scientific in-
frastructure and activities at ARR to stimulate interest in
space science and technology from elementary school to uni-
versity level. This is accomplished through a very active pro-
gramme with a series of courses and “space camps” for both
Norwegian and international students and teachers. NAROM
includes a visitor centre, Spaceship Aurora, that targets stu-
dents, teachers and the general public. Today NAROM has a
staff of 18 people and an annual budget of about NOK 18 mil-
It should also be mentioned that ARR supported the rocket
named ESPRIT, where US and Norwegian undergraduate
students could build instruments for a full-sized payload to Hist. Geo Space Sci., 9, 141–156, 2018
150 E. V. Thrane: The history of Andøya Rocket Range
Figure 12. The MARSSY radar built by IAP. It is one of the most advanced instruments of its kind (
abteilung-radarsondierungen/, last access: 5 December 2018).
Figure 13. The science operation centre (USOC).
study the mesosphere and lower ionosphere. ESPRIT was
successfully launched from ARR on 1 July 2006 (https:
//, last access: 5 De-
cember 2018).
9 Andøya Test Center (ATC)
The technological capabilities of ASC were also strength-
ened by the establishment in 2003 of the Andøya Test
Center (ATC), a department that can test rockets, missiles
and unmanned airborne systems for the Norwegian Armed
Forces as well as for Norwegian space and defence industry
(, last access: 5 De-
cember 2018).
The role of ARR on the national scene
For many years ARR was part of NTNFR, the Norwegian
Research Council for Technology and Science, department
for space activities. In 1987 Norway finally became a full
member of the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Nor-
wegian Space Centre (NSC) was established under the Min-
istry of Industry. Pål Sørensen was its first director. The
new centre was given wide responsibility for Norwegian
space activities. ARR was established as a private company,
owned 90 % by NSC and 10 % by Kongsberg Defence and
Aerospace. In 2005 Kolbjørn Adolfsen retired as director of
ARR and was succeeded by Odd Roger Enoksen. Enoksen
had wide experience in politics as an MP, as leader of the
Senterpartiet and as a cabinet minister. He took a leave of
absence from ARR for 2 years to serve as minister for the
Department of Oil and Energy. During this period Torstein
Rødseth served as director. In 2014 ARR changed its name to
Andøya Space Center (ASC). The name change reflected the
fact than the activities at Andøya now comprise much more
that the launch of scientific rockets. ASC is now a limited
company owned 90% by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and
Hist. Geo Space Sci., 9, 141–156, 2018
E. V. Thrane: The history of Andøya Rocket Range 151
Figure 14. Overview of the infrastructure of ARR/ASC with SvalRak.
Fisheries and 10 % by Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace. At
present, ASC has an annual turnover of about NOK150 mil-
lion and a staff of 95 people. The development of ARR/ASC
is illustrated in the linked video, which shows scenes from
1962 and 2017 (, Abrehemsen,
The home page of ASC is
(last access: 5 December 2018).
10 The scientific impact of ARR/ASC
During 56 years of operation, ARR/ASC has established it-
self on the international scene as a leading base for scientific
exploration of the Arctic ionosphere and upper atmosphere.
I shall in broad terms point out some significant scientific re-
sults obtained by the users (4 3 2 1 fire!, 2002). A key to the
success is the unique location of ARR/ASC including Sval-
Rak. Typical apogees for sounding rockets can range from
120 to 1500 km. Because of air drag, a rocket-borne probe
cannot normally be exposed to the atmosphere below about
50 km. This is therefore an effective lower height limit for
such studies. The large impact areas for both ranges makes it
possible to perform in situ measurements in a range of lati-
tudes from 69N to more than 80N and from about 15E to
10W in longitude (see Fig. 7). Advanced ground-based and
satellite instruments can also monitor the state of the atmo-
sphere in, as well as below and above, this region and thus
support the sounding rocket studies.
It is convenient to discuss the ARR/ASC results in two,
partially overlapping, height regions, as described in the fol-
lowing subsections.
10.1 The Arctic mesosphere and lower thermosphere,
50–120 km
Before rockets became available, very little was known about
this height region, and it was sometimes referred to as the
“ignorosphere”. Ground-based studies of radio wave reflec-
tion and absorption had, to some extent, mapped the plasma
in the high-latitude ionospheric Dand Eregions, but with
poor time and spatial resolution. Also, there was little infor-
mation about the state of the non-ionized air. Such informa-
tion was badly needed to understand the atmospheric physics
and chemistry, so that comprehensive atmospheric models
could be developed. Rocket and ground-based studies from
ARR/ASC have provided a wealth of information, such as
listed below:
Detailed knowledge has been obtained of the complex
structure of the electron density as well as the positive-
and negative-ion density in the Arctic lower ionosphere.
A deeper understanding has been reached on how this
structure is related to auroral activity (Friedrich, 2016).
The lower ionosphere is only weakly ionized, and
it is important to measure the composition of the
non-ionized gas. Rocket-borne mass spectrometers and
ground-based lidars have revealed a very complex and Hist. Geo Space Sci., 9, 141–156, 2018
152 E. V. Thrane: The history of Andøya Rocket Range
Figure 15. Panoramic view of ASC. Main buildings to the left, launch area to the right.
intricate chemistry where minor constituents play im-
portant roles.
The weather and climate of this region has been studied
systematically from Andøya with in situ and ground-
based techniques. As an example, mapping of the an-
nual variation of the temperature profile has led to an
understanding of the cause of the deep temperature min-
imum in the Arctic summer mesopause near 90 km. Pi-
oneering and systematic studies of wind, waves and tur-
bulence have been carried out from ARR/ASC and rep-
resent a breakthrough in our understanding of the dy-
namical processes in non-ionized gas (Lübken et al.,
1998). These experiments include studies of the tur-
bopause, that is, the transition near 100 km from a lower
turbulent regime to a higher regime with laminar flow.
In the mesosphere and lower thermosphere, meteoric
dust and ice particles are important constituents, and in
summer they can be observed as noctilucent clouds and
polar mesospheric summer radar echoes. In recent years
weak layers have also been observed in winter. Research
from ARR/ASC has significantly increased our knowl-
edge of the microphysical processes of these phenom-
ena and mapped their annual variations.
(See references in Appendix A and in https://www., last access: 5 December 2018).
10.2 The auroral thermosphere/ionosphere,
100–1500 km
Auroral phenomena had been studied from the ground by
cameras and spectrometers, by magnetometers, by radio echo
techniques and by riometers monitoring the ionospheric ab-
sorption of cosmic radio noise in the VHF band. These tech-
niques were available in northern Norway and could be used
by the “rocket scientists” to map the general background
and time development of an auroral event and thus diagnose
the optimum conditions for a rocket launch. The first rocket
payload designed to study the aurora was flown from Fort
Churchill in Canada in 1958 by the US Naval Research Lab-
oratory (NRL). The first “auroral” rocket (Ferdinand III) was
launched from ARR on 11 December 1962, and on 2 De-
cember 1997 the first rocket was launched into the cusp from
SvalRak in Ny-Ålesund. A total of about 150 instrumented
rockets have so far been launched into the auroral ionosphere
from ARR/ASC and SvalRak. Some examples of the scien-
tific achievements are as follows:
The height variation of electron density as well as ion
density and composition in the auroral Eand Fregions
have been measured in situ.
Energetic electrons and protons precipitating from the
magnetosphere create the aurora. The energy spectra of
these particles have been studied in situ, mapping their
spatial and temporal variations.
The spectra of auroral light emissions resulting from the
energetic particles have been measured in situ, leading
to much better knowledge of their variation in time and
space. Rockets have been launched to large altitudes to
map the geographical extent of an arc from above.
New detailed knowledge has been obtained of the elec-
tric and magnetic fields within an aurora, and of the
electric currents they produce (Pfaff et al., 1998)
A spacecraft flying through the auroral plasma will in-
teract with the medium, causing electric charging of the
craft and changes in the surrounding plasma. Such pro-
cesses are very complex and understanding them is es-
sential for the interpretation of the results from the on-
board instruments. These problems have been studied
from ARR using payloads that are split during flight into
a “mother” and a “daughter” payload. The mother and
daughter will slowly drift apart to measure small-scale
Hist. Geo Space Sci., 9, 141–156, 2018
E. V. Thrane: The history of Andøya Rocket Range 153
variations at two points in space. Part of the time they
were connected by a tether to measure potential differ-
ence due to charging. Artificial aurora was created by
launching a beam of energetic electrons from one of the
payloads (Mæhlum et al., 1980).
There are a several observatories and rocket ranges in
the Arctic that have contributed to our knowledge of
the aurora. Examples are ESRANGE in Sweden, Fort
Churchill in Canada and Poker Flat Research Range
in Alaska. However, in one field of science ARR/ASC
offers unique advantages. The polar cusp is a region
where the magnetospheric plasma has direct access to
ionosphere. The particle flow in the cusp creates the
daytime aurora, which is visible to the naked eye during
the Arctic winter only on Svalbard and Franz Josef
Land. Sounding rockets both from Andøya and from
Svalbard can reach into the cusp for detailed studies of
the coupling between the solar wind and the ionosphere.
Such studies are supported by HF backscatter radars
in the Arctic, by the EISCAT radars on the mainland
and at Svalbard, and by satellites in near-polar orbits.
Since 1997 only a few rocket campaigns have been
carried out, but these campaigns have yielded new
fundamental information about the processes in the
cusp. The measurements cover a wide range of scales
in time and space. For example, plasma structures and
instabilities have been mapped with surgical precision
down to scales of metres and seconds (Moen et al.,
2012; Oksavik et al., 2012; https://www.sscspace.
com/ssc-worldwide/esrange-space-center/, last access:
5 December 2018;
welcome-poker-flat, last access: 5 December 2018;, last
access: 5 December 2018).
In conclusion, 56 years of research using ARR/ASC and
its facilities has made a very significant contribution to our
knowledge of the Arctic upper atmosphere and ionosphere.
The space age gave us efficient tools to explore the inter-
action between the solar wind, the Earth’s magnetosphere
and the upper atmosphere by new in situ measurements of
the aurora borealis. Another important, and related, topic has
been the exploration of the mesosphere (formerly the “ig-
norosphere”), where a combination of in situ and remote
measurements has been very successful in describing and
understanding the processes in this transition zone between
the lower atmosphere and space. The results of this exten-
sive research have been documented in high-quality scientific
journals. The number of articles is large and difficult to esti-
mate, but, as mentioned earlier, an example is the ALOMAR-
related research that has resulted in close to 500 publications
in the 25 years ALOMAR has existed.
A list of publications from this field may be found at https:
// (last access: 5 December 2018).
Figure 16. Sounding rockets and radars will explore the cusp re-
gion (,
last access: 5 December 2018).
11 The future
Space science and the space industry are very important for
Norway, and the NSC is a government agency under the Min-
istry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries. NSC is responsible for
organizing Norwegian space activities. These had a total bud-
get in 2014 of NOK 879 million (
eng/, last access: 5 December 2018).
Andøya Space Center has become a very active company
focussed on space activities. It is important internationally,
nationally and for the local community of Andenes. A wide
range of tools are available at ASC for scientists and engi-
neers trying to understand and exploit the Arctic upper at-
mosphere. Sounding rockets are effective tools, and there
are specific plans for new programmes. One of these is the
Grand Challenge Initiative (GCI). Here, Norway has taken
the lead in a collaboration between Norwegian and US re-
search groups and agencies. GCI is a large-scale international
collaboration targeting advancement in specific, fundamental
issues in space and earth sciences. “The GCI Cusp Project
is designed to advance the common understanding of cusp
region space physics through coordinated experimental and
theoretical research using ground-based instruments, mod-
elling, sounding rocket investigations, and satellite-based in-
struments. GCI – CUSP consists of 8 missions with a total
of 12 sounding rockets. International student participation
through space plasma model development and a dedicated
student rocket (G-CHASER) is an essential aspect of the GCI
concept.” (Jøran Moen, Department of Physics, University of
Oslo, personal communication, 2018) (see Fig. 16).
A new Grand Challenge project from around 2023 is al-
ready being prepared; the GCI Mesosphere project is in-
tended to utilize several launch sites in the Arctic and the
tropics, as well as applicable ground-based sites. The aim is
to include scientists and technologists from Norway, Swe-
den, Germany, the USA, Japan and other countries.
Another important future development is to build a launch
site for small satellites in near-polar orbits. There is a Eu- Hist. Geo Space Sci., 9, 141–156, 2018
154 E. V. Thrane: The history of Andøya Rocket Range
ropean market for such services, and ASC and Norwegian
authorities are seriously considering the possibilities. If im-
plemented, these plans would mean a significant investment
in technical facilities, buildings and staff. The launch site can
not be built in Oksebåsen, so other locations on the island of
Andøya will be evaluated.
12 Summary
The article reviews the history of Andøya Rocket Range, now
Andøya Space Center, from its inception to the present. From
a modest start in 1962 with the launch of the first rocket,
Ferdinand 1, ARR/ASC has developed into a very active
company with a staff of 95 and an annual turnover of about
NOK 150 million. The focus has been on the scientific explo-
ration of the Arctic ionosphere and middle atmosphere, and
gradually a very sophisticated scientific infrastructure was
developed in close collaboration with the international scien-
tific community. This infrastructure comprises many ground-
based instruments and includes a launch site at Svalbard. The
activities at ARR/ASC have over the years been expanded to
include space education and support of the Norwegian space
industry. The future possibility of launching small satellites
from Andøya is currently being explored. ASC is well estab-
lished as an important observatory and company on both the
international and national scene.
Video supplement. The development of ARR/ASC is illustrated
in the linked video, which shows scenes from 1962 and 2017
(, Abrahamsen, 2017).
Hist. Geo Space Sci., 9, 141–156, 2018
E. V. Thrane: The history of Andøya Rocket Range 155
Appendix A
In the years from 1975 to 1990 many of the activities at
ARR were centred on large international campaigns under
the auspices of SCOSTEP and COSPAR. These campaigns
targeted specific problem areas; they involved many scien-
tific groups, several research ranges, and many sounding
rockets and ground-based instruments. ARR played an im-
portant role in these research programmes. The results were
interpreted and published jointly in special issues of the Jour-
nal of Atmospheric and Terrestrial Physics.
The campaigns were as follows:
The Winter Anomaly Campaign (1975/76), J. Atmos.
Terr. Phys., 41, 10–11, 1979. This programme studied
the anomalous absorption of radio waves in the lower
ionosphere observed in winter at middle and high lat-
itudes. Rockets were launched from Huelva in Spain.
The campaign contributed significantly to the under-
standing of this phenomenon. The principal investigator
(PI) was Dirk Offermann, Gesamthochschule Wupper-
tal (GW).
The Energy Budget Campaign (1980), J. Atmos. Terr.
Phys., 47, 1–2–3, 1985. This campaign focussed on en-
ergetic processes in the upper atmosphere. It was con-
ducted from two ranges, ESRANGE and ARR, simulta-
neously, PI was Dirk Offermann, GW (at ESRANGE);
deputy PI was Eivind V. Thrane, FFI (at ARR).
Middle Atmosphere Physics Winter in Northern Eu-
rope (MAP/WINE 1983–1984), J. Atmos. Terr. Phys.,
49, 7–8, 1987. MAP/WINE studied winter phenomena
such as stratospheric warmings and their relations to
the physics of the mesosphere and lower ionosphere.
The ARR campaign lasted for several months. PI was
Ulf von Zahn, Bonn University; deputy PI was Eivind
V. Thrane, FFI.
Middle Atmosphere Cooperation Summer in Northern
Europe (MACSINE July–August 1987) and MAC Ep-
silon (October–November 1987), J. Atmos. Terr. Phys.,
52, 10–11, 1990. ARR was the centre for both cam-
paigns. MACSINE studied summer phenomena, while
MACEpsilon focussed on the role of turbulence in the
middle atmosphere. In the latter campaign five instru-
mented rockets were launched in one salvo (within
80 s). PI was Eivind V. Thrane, FFI; deputy PI was
Ulf von Zahn, BU.
Dynamics Adapted Network of the Atmosphere
(DYANA 1990), J. Atmos. Terr. Phys., 56, 13–14, 1994.
This campaign studied the dynamics of the upper at-
mosphere on a global scale. ARR was the centre, but
coordinated rocket launches were made from ranges in
Asia, Europe and North America. PI was Dirk Offer-
mann, GW, with Eivind V. Thrane, FFI, as deputy. Hist. Geo Space Sci., 9, 141–156, 2018
156 E. V. Thrane: The history of Andøya Rocket Range
Competing interests. The author declares that he has no conflict
of interest.
Special issue statement. This article is part of the special issue
“History of geophysical institutes and observatories”. It is not asso-
ciated with a conference.
Acknowledgements. The author gratefully acknowledges the
support of CEO and President Odd Roger Enoksen and his staff
at ASC. An invitation to visit ASC during the preparation of the
manuscript proved very useful, and many of the staff members
provided information and advice. The author would also like to
thank Tom Arild Blix (FFI) and Jøran Idar Moen (University of
Oslo) for valuable assistance.
Edited by: Asgeir Brekke
Reviewed by: Martin Friedrich, Olav Holt, and one anonymous
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Holtet, J., Jacobsen, T. A., Maynard, N. C., Søraas, F., Stadsnes,
J., Thrane, E. V., and Trøim, J.: Polar 5 – and electron accelerator
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November 1987), Guest Editor: Thrane, E. V., J. Atmos. Terr.
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(MAP/WINE 1983–84), Guest Editor: von Zahn, U., J. At-
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grammes and Related Research, 1997-05-26–1997-05-29, 1997.
Lübken, F.-J., Rapp, M., Blix, T., and Thrane, E.: Microphysical and
turbulent measurements of the Schmidt number in the vicinity of
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896, 1998.
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Hist. Geo Space Sci., 9, 141–156, 2018
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The sounding rocket Investigation of Cusp Irregularities 2 (ICI-2) was launched into the cusp ionosphere over Svalbard to investigate the production of decameter scale irregularities in the electron plasma associated with HF radar backscatter. The main mission objective was to obtain high-resolution measurements of decameter scale electron plasma irregularities and to quantify the growth rate for the gradient drift instability (GDI). At the 5.7 kHz sampling rate of the absolute density measurements, ICI-2 has provided the first documentation in terms of absolute electron density measurements of how 10-m structures are located on km scale electron density gradients. ICI-2 traversed a cusp electron density structure created by ongoing soft precipitation. 10-m scale irregularities were generated at km scale density gradients. The estimated growth time for the GDI process was 10-50 seconds. Citation: Moen, J., K. Oksavik, T. Abe, M. Lester, Y. Saito, T. A. Bekkeng, and K. S. Jacobsen (2012), First in-situ measurements of HF radar echoing targets, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L07104, doi: 10.1029/2012GL051407.
The Investigation of Cusp Irregularities (ICI-2) sounding rocket was launched on 5 December 2008 from Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard. The high-resolution rocket data are combined with data from an all-sky camera, the EISCAT Svalbard Radar, and the SuperDARN Hankasalmi radar. These data sets are used to characterize the spatial structure of F region irregularities in the dayside cusp region. We use the data set to test two key mechanisms for irregularity growth; the Kelvin-Helmholtz (KH) and gradient drift (GD) instabilities. Except for a promising interval of 4-6 km irregularities, the KH growth rate was found to be too slow to explain the observed plasma irregularities. The time history of the plasma gives further support that structured particle precipitation could be an important source of kilometer- to hectometer-scale “seed” irregularities, which are then efficiently broken down into decameter-scale irregularities by the GD mechanism.
During the ECHO campaign in 1994 neutral and electron density fluctuations were measured together with charged aerosols on the same sounding rocket launched close to a VHF radar detecting polar mesosphere summer echoes (PMSE). For the first time this combination of measurements allows for an independent test of the microphysical and the turbulence interpretations of the Schmidt number (Sc). The Schmidt number characterizes the reduction of the electron diffusivity by charged aerosols, which leads to an enhancement of the electron density fluctuations at small spatial scales. In one of the flights charged aerosols were observed at ∼83–89km together with correlated depletions in electron density (‘biteouts’). We have applied a model of aerosol charging to the measured plasma profiles and determined a mean aerosol radius of ∼8nm and a mean aerosol charge of 1e-. In the microphysical description of electron diffusion these parameters correspond to Sc∼420. Spectral analysis of the electron density fluctuations showed enhancements of spectral densities at small scales suggesting likewise a Schmidt number much larger than unity. Using an energy dissipation rate of 67mW/kg as derived from neutral air turbulence measurements on the same rocket we get from the electron spectra Sc=385 which is in excellent agreement with the microphysical result. Apart from this turbulent layer we observe no significant disturbances in neutral air number densities below ∼87km which confirms earlier indications that processes must exist to create PMSEs which are not directly coupled to neutral air turbulence.
The upper part of the mesosphere is the site of several peculiar phenomena which may change on short time scales while their strength and appearance frequency also show seasonal variations. It is possible that climatic changes are being observed since f.ex. the strength of noctilucent clouds apparently increases while the temperature during the last decades has decreased annually by as much as 0.5 deg K. These observations and the possibility that phenomena in the upper part of the mesosphere may be harbinger of climatic changes has made it very important that we can obtain in situ observations of this part of the atmosphere by instrumentation carried by rockets with a much higher frequency than before. This necessitates a drastic reduction in the price per launch compared with the older large sounding rockets. We have developed a miniaturized payload which is launched on small single stage rocket boosters. The payload electronics is fitted into a tube of 42 mm diameter. At present it contains 4 electrometers which is measuring the currents from 3 experiments: an ion and an electron probe on booms plus a dust probe which measures direct currents from impacting dust and also a possible secondary plasma production. The probes are under a split nose cone to be released at about 70 km height. The electrometers measure currents in both directions with microcontrolled decade switching. The measurements for the ion current, in 16 bit words, are in 4 ranges, the lowest from 0 to 2 × 10-10 A and the highest up to 2 × 10-7 A. The maximum sensitivity is about 1 x 10-13 A. For the electron currents the range values are one decade higher. The measuring ranges ran be changed if we wish to use them for other experiments in the payload. There is presently space for 8 electrometers. The PCM encoder has a bit rate of 312.5 kc/s and it contains a stable oscillator which makes it possible to use the Doppler slant range technique to measure the distance to the rocket. This together with the direction of the ground-based telemetry antennas give the orbit of the payload and a tracking radar is not needed. The housekeeping contains up to 8 measurements, in 8 bit words, which at the present includes horizontal and vertical angles of the payload by two magnetometers, internal temperatures, axial and normal acceleration, battery voltage and total current. We are using a S-band transmitter at frequency 2270 Mc/s of 225 mW power which feeds the antennas by a power splitter. The antennas are epoxy-filled slots, one in each of the four stainless steel tail fins. The main power supply consists of a 28 V battery pack which is converted to 15 V. Each of the internal cards has its own stable voltage regulator. The payload also has an umbilical plug for charging of the batteries on the ground and for testing of the payload. A technical programme with 4 miniaturized payloads (Minidusty 1-4), launched on Viper III boosters, has been seen culminating in the successful launch of Minidusty 4 through a PMSE layer on May 22, 1997. We show technical results and discuss the plans for a further development of the miniaturized payloads.
An analysis of aurora distribution in the northern and southern hemispheres has been made according to results of photo-observations for aurorae. The auroral zone is of an oval form, approaching the geomagnetic pole (φ ∼ 78°) at day hours and withdrawing from the pole (φ ∼ 68°) at night hours. The location of auroral zones in the northern and southern hemispheres at day and night hours are given.
In November/December 1980 an international campaign of ground-based, balloon- and rocket-borne experiments was carried out in northern Scandinavia to study different energy production and loss processes in the mesosphere and lower thermosphere. Some 50 rockets and 14 balloons were launched and an extended network of 56 ground stations was operated in widely spread parts of Europe. Atmospheric behaviour during geomagnetically disturbed, as well as quiet, conditions was studied.In this introductory review the scientific objectives, structure and geophysical conditions of the campaign are described. In addition, specific results are summarized concerning currents and particles, the radiation field, atmospheric density, temperature and composition, wind systems, wave dissipation and turbulence. The energy budget at two altitudes (90 km and 120–140 km) is especially discussed. The various aspects of the experimental results are given in full detail in the subsequent 20 papers of this issue.
A mother-daughter rocket was launched over two auroral structures, which included a 10 keV electron accelerator and a series of diagnostic instruments for monitoring optical and wave effects generated through beam-atmospheric interactions and production of secondary electrons. The instrumentation, the ground and rocket background measurements obtained, and some of the beam effects on various geophysical parameters are presented. Attention is given to the rocket geometry, capacitance probe, particle counters, photometers, and the bremsstrahlung X-ray detector. Observations on the plasma environment, auroral particle precipitation, d.c. electric field, optical emissions, and auroral background HF and VLF emissions are also discussed.
Making Sense of Space: The History of Norwegian Space Activities
  • J P Collett
On the morphology of Auroral Zone X-ray Events
  • J Bjordal
  • H Trefall
  • S Ullaland
  • A Beversdorff
  • J Kangas
  • P Tanskanen
  • G Kremser
  • K H Saeger
  • H Specht
Bjordal, J., Trefall H., Ullaland, S., Beversdorff, A., Kangas, J., Tanskanen, P., Kremser, G., Saeger, K. H., and Specht, H.: On the morphology of Auroral Zone X-ray Events, J. Atmos. Terr. Phys., 33, 1289-1303,, 1971.
Ionosfæreforskning, fra Kjeller til Saturn
  • E V Thrane