Next generation European Incoherent Scatter radar system
General Info

EISCAT Scientific Association

Bengt Hultqvists väg 1, 981 92 Kiruna, Sweden

legal status



remote, physical

The EISCAT Scientific Association was established in 1975 to conduct research on the lower, middle, and upper atmosphere and ionosphere using the incoherent scatter radar technique. Since then, the facilities of the EISCAT have been continuously developed and extended and today comprise world-class radars and a powerful ionospheric heating facility. The EISCAT_3D phased-array incoherent scatter radar (ISR) under construction today consists of three sites in Northern Fenno-Scandinavia: a transmit-receive radar in Skibotn (Norway) and two radar receivers in Kasieniemi (Sweden) and Karesuvanto (Finland). This means that it will be located near space research centres in Kiruna (Sweden), Sodankylä (Finland) and Tromsø (Norway), two rocket launch facilities at Andøya (Norway) and Esrange (Sweden), and several other distributed instrument networks for geospace observation such as magnetometers and auroral cameras. The new facility will be vastly more powerful than the existing EISCAT radars. Once operational, EISCAT_3D will be the only tri-static ISR in the world to offer fully flexible radar beam steering and full configurability for the requirements of the EISCAT users. EISCAT_3D will be capable of simultaneous multiple beams, instantaneous and adaptive control of the beam position, high-resolution phase, polarisation and amplitude coding, full-profile vector measurements of the ionospheric plasma flow, small-scale imaging, and high-speed object tracking. This means that EISCAT_3D is not only designed to investigate how the Earth’s atmosphere is coupled to space, but it will also be suitable for a wide range of other scientific targets including climate change, space weather, plasma physics, space debris and near-Earth object studies. Since the inception of EISCAT_3D, owing also to the significantly changed geopolitical situation affected by the war in Ukraine and other events, it has become ever clearer, that EISCAT_3D will have to adhere to much higher security standards than the EISCAT radars so far. Therefore, in spring 2023, the decision has been made to change the legal status of EISCAT such that the current non-profit EISCAT Scientific Association will become a new non-profit, limited-liability company (working name “EISCAT AB”), which will be established as a Swedish state enterprise, the shareholders of which will be suitable entities in the other EISCAT host countries Norway and Finland. EISCAT_3D was included in the ESFRI Roadmap 2008, is in the Implementation Phase since June 2017, and its inauguration is planned for 2025.
Total Investment 79,3 M€ Design 2,6 M€ Preparation 9,1 M€ Implementation 67,6 M€ Operation 4,9 M€/year Project Landmark 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016 2018 2020 2022 2024 2026 2028 2030 2032 2034 2036 2038 RM06 RM08 RM10 RM16 RM18 RM21 LA24
Roadmap Entry
as project: 2008
as landmark: 2018
Total investment
79,3 M€
Design Phase
2,6 M€
Preparation Phase
9,1 M€
Implementation Phase
67,6 M€
Operation start
4,9 M€/year
EISCAT_3D is dedicated to the research area of solar-terrestrial physics, i.e. the study of the effects of the variability of the Sun, through Space Weather, on the Earth’s environment, which is significant for most aspects of human life. Understanding, and being able to predict the effects of solar-terrestrial processes is of crucial importance for a range of practical applications including global climate change, human spaceflight, satellite operations, communications, precision navigation, remote sensing of Earth’s environment from space, long-distance energy transport, and human health. The study of the atmosphere is not simply about discovering processes, it is about integrating our knowledge of these processes into a holistic understanding of the complex systems which couple the near-Earth space to the upper, middle, and lower atmosphere. The main purpose of the radar is on space research, but EISCAT_3D will also enable the detailed study of chemical processes in the upper and middle atmosphere, as well as the dynamics of lower, middle, and upper atmosphere. Making the best possible radar observations, requires significant research and innovation in other fields such as mathematics, radio engineering, computer science, radio science. Research in all these areas will be directly applicable to other radar and communications technologies for use on the ground as well as in space. Research results will help mitigate the effects of space storms on modern societies, which depend ever more on sophisticated electronics and wireless technologies. Furthermore, EISCAT_3D will have a considerable user community from the applied sciences sector, requiring data products relevant to the afore mentioned applications.
EISCAT provides access to radar, and other, high-latitude facilities of the highest technical standard for non-military scientific purposes. Access in this context means that users will be able to decide how to configure their own radar experiments under the guidance of EISCAT staff. EISCAT staff will then run the desired experiments as requested. These user-defined experiments are run either as Special Programme (SP) if the respective users belong to an EISCAT member organisation, or as Peer-Review Programme. Furthermore, there are Common Programmes (CP), which are a service of EISCAT to all users in member organisations. CP experiments are meant to cover events of potentially very wide user interest, such as large geomagnetic storms. EISCAT carefully processes, catalogues, and safeguards all data indefinitely for the benefit of users today and in the future. Through its participation in world-leading scientific endeavours and by providing leadership in the design and construction of hardware and software to support these goals, EISCAT will provide educational opportunities. Furthermore, EISCAT will assist users in the analysis of the radar observations and provide the analysis tools. The use of phased-array technology for ISR is not new, but a fully flexible radar like EISCAT_3D is only possible thanks to the decreasing cost and ever higher performance of computational resources today. With further developments in computing, including advent of artificial intelligence becoming practical for real-world applications, EISCAT will continue to develop the capabilities of EISCAT_3D. Naturally this development will be driven by users demands and visible in form of educational results such as MSc and PhD theses as well as scientific publications.
S S H D I G I T E N E H & F P S E
EISCAT Scientific Association has established collaborations with other European and international RIs on various common interests. EISCAT has been involved in collaborations on control systems and software, such as TANGO and White Rabbit high-precision timing, with, among others, CERN, MAX-IV, LOFAR, and SKA. Within the ENVRI cluster of Research Infrastructures (including ACTRIS, IAGOS, EMSO, EURO-ARGO, EUROFLEETS, ESONET, EUROGOOS, FIXO3, JERICO, SEADATANET, EPOS, ANAEE, ELIXIR, INTERACT, LTER, EMBRC, ICOS, IS-ENES and SIOS), EISCAT has had deep collaborations in areas such as providing FAIR scientific data and metadata as well as how to optimise access provision for users of the infrastructure. This has also been a theme in a number of activities organised by EGI and AARC. Within the EU funded PITHIA-NRF project, EISCAT has been a driving force in collecting and unifying European facilities (including) for observations and predictions of processes in the Earth’s ionosphere, plasmasphere and thermosphere. Outside of Europe, EISCAT collaborates on technical and scientific issues with radio based research infrastructures such as HAARP and PFISR in Alaska, RISR in Canada, the global SuperDARN radar network including its newly planned location on Cyprus.