Penn State Radar Systems: Implementation and Observations
Thursday, 18 December 2014
Software Defined Radio/Radar (SDR) platforms have become increasingly popular as researchers, hobbyists, and military seek more efficient and cost-effective means for radar construction and operation. SDR platforms, by definition, utilize a software-based interface for configuration in contrast to traditional, hard-wired platforms. In an effort to provide new and improved radar sensing capabilities, Penn State has been developing advanced instruments and technologies for future radars, with primary objectives of making such instruments more capable, portable, and more cost effective. This paper will describe the design and implementation of two low-cost radar systems and their deployment in ionospheric research at both low and mid-latitudes. One radar has been installed near Penn State campus, University Park, Pennsylvania (77.97°W, 40.70°N), to make continuous meteor observations and mid-latitude plasma irregularities. The second radar is being installed in Huancayo (12.05°S, -75.33°E), Peru, which is capable of detecting E and F region plasma irregularities as well as meteor reflections. In this paper, we examine and compare the diurnal and seasonal variability of specular, non- specular, and head-echoes collected with these two new radar systems and discuss sampling biases of each meteor observation technique. We report our current efforts to validate and calibrate these radar systems with other VHF radars such as Jicamarca and SOUSY. We also present the general characteristics of continuous measurements of E-region and F-region coherent echoes using these modern radar systems and compare them with coherent radar events observed at other geographic mid-latitude radar stations.