Post from a Scientist: “Radio Communication”

Hello everyone!

I would like to tell you about the measurements I take onboard the Akademik Fedorov. As my own research is connected with ionospheric plasma (the layer of the atmosphere where there is a high concentration of charged particles, beginning from 80km up), those of us from the Fedorov Institute of Applied Geophysics (named for the same famous Russian researcher as our ship), decided to install onboard a GPS receiver-Timble 5700. With this data we can calculate the total electron concentration in the ionosphere. Well, I’ve got to tell it like it is.

 How does GPS receiver – Trimble 5700 work?

This is a two-frequency geodetic receiver, which means that it is able to obtain GPS signals on two ranges (L1= 1575.42MHz and L2 = 1227.6MHz). The receiver continually collects location information from three or more satellites, so that it can accurately “triangulate” its position. To then more precisely determine its position, the receiver calculates the “pseudo-range.” Pseudo-range is the distance between the satellite and the receiver, which is calculated more precisely by accounting for the signal delay, which is caused by the influence of the troposphere and the ionosphere. Another important piece of information we get from the receiver is the “phase change” of the signal coming from the satellite, again caused by the radio wave traveling through the ionosphere and the troposphere. All of this information is used in the calculation of total electron concentration in ionospheric plasma.

The GPS Trimble 5700 receiver. Photo from Ekaterina Perminova

The GPS Trimble 5700 receiver. Photo from Ekaterina Perminova

The antenna on the deck of the ship. Photo from Ekaterina Perminova

The antenna on the deck of the ship. Photo from Ekaterina Perminova

Why is this important?

The ionosphere at high latitudes (i.e. the polar regions) has not been explored enough yet, and modeling of the ionosphere is difficult. But data about the ionosphere is very important for calculating radio paths and for supporting radio communication.

The “auroral oval” areas in the polar regions. It is the territory where ionization is much higher than in other regions (ionization is when neutral – or uncharged – particles become charged). The blue oval represents the highest level of ionization. Our expedition path has taken us around the Russian side of the Arctic. If you have ever wanted to see the Northern Lights, this is where you should come! Image from Ekaterina Perminova

The “auroral oval” areas in the polar regions. It is the territory where ionization is much higher than in other regions (ionization is when neutral – or uncharged – particles become charged). The blue oval represents the highest level of ionization. Our expedition path has taken us around the Russian side of the Arctic. If you have ever wanted to see the Northern Lights, this is where you should come! Image from Ekaterina Perminova

Best wishes and a lot of ideas,

- Ekaterina Perminova, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (State University)

This is me in the Arctic. Photo from Ekaterina Perminova

This is me in the Arctic. Photo from Ekaterina Perminova

This was our first totally bright and sunny night in the Arctic. Photo from Ekaterina Perminova

This was our first totally bright and sunny night in the Arctic. Photo from Ekaterina Perminova

This was the day when we saw polar bears! Photo from Ekaterina Perminova

This was the day when we saw polar bears! Photo from Ekaterina Perminova

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to Post from a Scientist: “Radio Communication”

  1. onan amador says:

    Dear Lindsay, I wanted to know What is the size of the artic region and the artic region.

    • lindsay says:

      Dear Onan, it’s a hard question, because the answer depends on how you define “arctic.” There is the Arctic Ocean, and then the general term “arctic,” which means any place with average temperatures below freezing. That means that some places in Canada and Russia/Siberia are actually “arctic!”

  2. Sabrina Valladares says:

    Hi Lindasy,
    I was just wondering what the electron concentration in the ionosphere tells you? what information does itgive you?

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Sabrina, the ionosphere is the layer of the atmosphere in which atoms are ionized by radiation from the Sun. Ionization refers to when atoms gain or lose an electron and become negatively or positively charged, so electron concentration is related to the degree of ionization. This layer is important for radio communication, and also the aurora borealis, or the “Northern Lights” (and also the “Southern Lights” as well).

  3. Ronesha Ellington says:

    I’m a student at LEOM High School and today in class we were reading about the Mediterranean Sea . And i was wondering. How would the density in the artic ocean which is cold water be different from the Mediterranean Sea which is warm water?

    • lindsay says:

      Dear Ronesha, the salinity and density depend on the depth/location of water, but near the surface, the Mediterranean is warmer/saltier and the Arctic is colder/fresher, so the density is probably not too different there (saltwater is denser than freshwater, and colder water is denser than warm water).

  4. Ronesha Ellington says:

    Since it’s different climates between the two water location would the tool be different in texture, weight, and materials?

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Ronesha, if I read your question right, scientists do use some different components on some standard tools, for example, if the water is saltier, you might want to protect underwater instruments a little more against rust. But in general, you want to have the same tools in multiple locations, so you can have consistent data to compare between multiple locations.

  5. Raymond Gamez says:

    Hello, I’m from Mrs.Gilbert’s Math class! My name is Raymond Gamez i’m wondering if you see those polar bears rarely or very often? They look so amazing, i’ve never personally seen one face to face. I’ve always seen them On movies and Tv shows etc, But never the real thing. Have you gotten close to any of them? It must be so exciting seeing them everyday! i wonder what other animals you’ve seen exploring the artic.

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Raymond, seeing polar bears was SO exciting! I hope you get to see one someday. They are very rare to see, also they are hard to spot, since they are white and the ice is white.

  6. Stephanie Blanco says:

    Lindsay, does the change in climate or appearance of the weather , affect the amount of animals you see ?

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Stephanie, changes in climate definitely affect the Arctic animals (remember weather is different from climate). The polar bears for example, have less ice to use as hunting grounds for food due to changes in the climate, which can greatly affect their ability to survive in the Arctic.

  7. Fritzner Julien says:

    What is the most hi-tech instrument that you guys have?

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Julien, that is a tough question, because there are so many instruments that are so cool. I think one of my favorites is the CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth), because we lower it all the way to the bottom of the ocean and it sends up all this amazing information, and takes samples. Learning about the bottom of the ocean from the top is so cool!

  8. Joseph Reyes says:

    Has their been anytime where the communication has gone wrong do to something in the weather?

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Joseph, we have had steady communication access through satellites, even though email is very expensive and we had to share a couple satellite phones between all of us.

  9. kaderrius smith says:

    how much did expedition cost

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Kaderrius, the National Science Foundation funded this expedition, and it is a multi-year project to study the Arctic to better understand the climate. I can’t quote you an exact figure, but these projects are very special and rare.

  10. Nicolas Perez says:

    Hi im Nicolas., have the animals ever tried to attack you

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Nicolas, no, no animal attacks, mostly the polar bears just seem to be curious about the big red noisy ship in their area.

  11. Eduardo chirinos says:

    Is there a difference in the arctic in the summer and winter?

    • lindsay says:

      Dear Eduardo, the summer are winter are very different in the Arctic – the summer is always light, slightly warmer, there is less ice, and more animals and life to be seen. In the winter, it is always dark, reeeeeeally cold, lots more ice, and lots less animal activity!

  12. Eduardo chirinos says:

    Is there more animal activity in the day or night?

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Eduardo, in the summer, it is always daylight in the Arctic, so day and night don’t have much different in terms of animal activity. However, the summer in the Arctic much more animal activity than the winter, when it is dark all the time!

  13. Diana Rodríguez says:

    Why Artic ice is not a good indicator of climate change?

    • lindsay says:

      Dear Diana, Arctic ice has been decreasing over the last few decades, due to warming temperatures, so it is kind of like a warning signal for the rest of the world that something is happening with the climate – because we are all connected through the oceans and atmosphere!

  14. Diana Rodríguez says:

    How much oil is there under the Artic?

  15. Eduardo chirinos says:

    How was it the first time you stepped on the boat and began your journey?

    • lindsay says:

      Dear Eduardo, it was the most amazing feeling ever! Not many people get to do this, so remember that and am thankful for every second!

  16. Eduardo chirinos says:

    Do you ever find any polar bears fighting for food or territory?
    Do you ever miss your home?

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Eduardo, we have not seen any polar bears fighting at all. They have mainly looked curious about the ship. I miss home, but it’s so amazing to be here for such a rare opportunity.

  17. Amanda Robaina says:

    What type of information does your technology pick up?

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Amanda, it depends on the type of equipment you’re using, and the goal of your experiment, but we communicate with satellites or other instruments to get all the data we need on the atmosphere, ice, and ocean.

  18. Nicolette Hill says:

    I also want to know how studying the Arctic will affect daily life?

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Nicolette, the Arctic (and the polar regions in general) are kind of a “warning signal” when it comes to climate. When temperatures rise, the effects are first seen at the poles, with the ice conditions. And since the oceans and atmosphere are connected all over the world, it is vital to the world to understand what is happening in the Arctic, especially as regards to climate.

  19. Xander Morejon says:

    Is there a relation between frequency and earthquakes; and are there earthquakes in the arctic?

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Xander, earthquakes don’t really occur in the Arctic because it is not at the edge or border of continental plates. Thanks for the question!

  20. Ekaterina,
    How interesting that one can use GPS “errors” to measure the nature of the ionosphere and troposphere. This sounds like a very creative scientific approach. Cool!

  21. oscar alfonso says:

    hi im from ms. gilberts class
    are your nights sunny and why?

    have u encountered any bad storms ? how many

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Oscar, we have passed through some storms, which made the waves really high and the ship really rocky. We had to secure things in our cabins so they didn’t fall over! It is daylight all the time in the summer, because of the orientation of the Earth with respect to the Sun. Since the Earth is tilted, the northern hemisphere is angled more toward the sun in the summer, which means that day or night, the sun doesn’t set completely. This also means that in the winter, the opposite happens when the northern hemisphere is angled away from the Sun, and the Arctic is dark, all day and night.

  22. Stefanie Gonzalez says:

    Why exactly is it important to know the electron concentration in the ionospheric plasma? What does it mean to have high and low concentrations of electrons? How does this effect the ionospheric plasma, and in turn, the environment?

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Stefanie, the ionosphere is the level of the atmosphere that is important in radio communication, and is also the layer involved in the aurora phenomenon that you can see at extreme northern and southern latitudes. The ionosphere is an upper layer of the atmosphere in which atoms are ionized by radiation from the Sun. (Ionization means that atoms have become charged by gaining or losing electrons, which is why electron concentration is important). Charged particles from the Sun enter the atmosphere, energizing the ionosphere and producing the beautiful aurora.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>