Ground-based Instrumentation

The ground-based instrumentation group runs and maintains the research infrastructure (KHO, SPEAR and the new SuperDARN radar).

The Kjell Henriksen Observatory (KHO)
The Kjell Henriksen Observatory (KHO) is an optical observatory located at the archipelago Svalbard 1000 km north of mainland Norway (78o N 16o E). During the auroral winter season from November to the end of February, 25 optical instruments operate 24 hours a day. The 10 non-optical instruments run all-year-round 24 hours a day.

The instruments at KHO are grouped into mainly six categories:

  • All-sky cameras and narrow field of view imagers
  • Meridian scanning photometers
  • Spectrometers / spectrographs
  • Scanning / imaging interferometers
  • Radio or non-optical instruments
  • Active optical instruments (lasers)

Narrow field of view sCMOS camera
This camera records the night sky at a very high spatial resolution of 14 meters per pixel at 130 km altitude. In addition, the calibration laboratory at UNIS has been upgraded with a one meter diameter integrating sphere system for absolute calibration purposes. The integrating sphere can be used by visiting scientists for calibration of their instruments before employment at the observation site.

BCSS Scintillation and Total Electron Content (TEC) network
In 2013 BCSS installed four new scintillation and total electron content receivers in Svalbard. One unit is located in Longyearbyen at KHO, and the other three units at Ny-Ålesund, Hopen and Bjørnøya. Each receiver stores detailed information about the signal amplitude and phase, in order to study how navigation signals from GPS, GLONASS and GALILEO are affected by plasma irregularities on their way through the ionosphere.

SuperDARN radar
The Svalbard SuperDARN radar is one of more than 30 low-power HF radars that look into Earth’s upper atmosphere beginning at mid-latitudes and extending into the Polar regions.

The purpose of SuperMAG is to help scientists, teachers, students and the general public have easy access to measurements of the Earth’s magnetic field. SuperMAG is a worldwide collaboration of organizations and national agencies that currently operate more than 300 ground based magnetometers.