SRI International, Menlo Park, USA
Incoherent Scatter Radars (ISRs) have existed for 40 plus years; EISCAT and Sondrestrom for 25 plus years. All of them continue to contribute to knowledge largely through incremental additions. We now better understand plasma convection, dayside aurora, Joule heating and particle energy deposition, substorm phenomena and the response to CME and CIR drivers – all as examples of topics where incremental additions continue to be made. The incremental improvement process varies from the addition of new operational modes, waveforms, adding to long term data bases, combining data sets through assimilation techniques, etc. New knowledge or sizeable incremental steps however, will be achieved with the addition of new techniques, new locations, and new stimuli for the scientific community. We are now in the process of doing just that. The application of modern radar and information technology (in the form of phased array beam steering, distributed solid state transmit/receive modules, and internet protocols) has been utilized in the AMISR design, resulting in an ISR with vast measurement improvements as compared to today’s existing radars. The EISCAT_3D is currently underway as a design and prototype study with the goal of producing an even more capable ISR. These advanced systems will enable new discoveries in addition to sizable incremental additions to our knowledge. What is beyond this current thinking? The science will be the driver, but not necessarily the scientists. Imagination is key to what is produced and it will be done with a combination of need and capability. What might Tor have advised?