Antarctica

Atmospheric and Space Physics - ASP


Annette's study of me trying to look like I'm working

Does the name give a hint of what we do? Is it everything from our feet up? At Casey ASP is interested in three broad areas, the earths magnetic field, the ionosphere, and the light from the upper atmosphere (the aurora). We work very closely with researchers at universities and other government bodies.

I should start with the focus of the Casey ASP effort, the Digital Portable Sounder, the DPS-4. The DPS is a digital ionosond, which is a radio frequency radar for the ionosphere. By measuring the time for a pulse of rf to reflected the hights of layers, and properties such as density, can be determined. The DPS is very smart in that it also determines the velocity of the particles in the layers. The highlight of the DPS for me was a joint project with Zhong Shan. We would transmit while they received, then we would swap for the next measurement. The DPS work is helped by a team at La Trobe University, and the Ionospheric Prediction Service is also very interested in the results.

The earths magnetic field is always changing. There are two experiments at Casey looking at the field, one at slow changes, the other very fast changes. The later of these is called the Magnetic Pulsations experiment, which looks at electro-magnetic waves traveling in the ionosphere. This work is supported by The University of Newcastle.

AGSO, The Australian Geological Survey Organization is interested in slower changes. This data is used by mining companies so they can tell when magnetic surveys will be effected, power companies as changes cause surges in power lines, and many others. I also do a monthly absolute measurement. This is a very accurate measurement of the direction and strength of the field at Casey. On the 3rd of September 1996 The field strength was 64520.7 nanotesla Magnetic North was 92.7139 degrees to the west The field pointed into the ground at angle of 81.4578 degrees to the horizontal.

Finally we have two experiments that look at the light from the sky at night. These are winter only experiments. The Wide Angle Photometer (WAP) measures the total light from a cone looking straight up. It only records the intensity, and no details of patterns. The computer that controls this experiment will ring me up if the intensity gets over an alarm level. This is very good for viewing auroras, but it also has a habit of phoning at sunrise!

The Auroral Video System (AVS) is actually just what its name implies. When it is dark it grabs a video frame of the whole  sky every 8 seconds. Because Casey is so close to the South Magnetic Pole, the aurora aren't really great and we only saw a handful of great light shows.

At some stage I've needed help from just about everyone on station and I'd like to thank the whole station for the help they have given ASP during my stay.

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