The Institute of Ionosphere is a leading scientific institution in Ukraine, which conducts research in near-Earth space using a highly informative radiophysical method – the incoherent scatter (IS) technique.
Institute of Ionosphere is based on a running since 1963 the research laboratory of the department “Electronics”, National Technical University “Kharkiv Polytechnic Institute”. The first experimental data were obtained in 1972.
Currently, the Kharkiv incoherent scatter radar is systematic measures parameters of geospace plasma over Ukraine in the framework of the scientific-research Institute of the ionosphere, and according to international scientific programmes (CAWSES, LTCS, CVS, M-I Coupling, GEM, MST, etc.). Experimental and theoretical studies of near-earth space are performed with joint and international aerospace research observatories in the USA, Canada, Peru and other countries.
Observatory of Institute of Ionosphere is located 50 km South-East from Kharkiv (near the Zmiiv town). The Experimental center is a National heritage of Ukraine from 2001. The composition of the Ionospheric Observatory include:
- incoherent scatter radar with a fixed vertical antenna with a diameter of 100 m;
- incoherent scatter radar with with a fully steerable antenna with a diameter of 25 m;
- ionosonde for vertical sounding;
- dual frequency GNSS receiver.
Kharkiv incoherent scatter radar is the single most informative source of information about the behavior of the main parameters of the ionospheric plasma at mid-latitudes of the Central European region. Radar depending on the modes of operation allows to obtain the following ionospheric parameters: electron density, temperature of electrons and ions, the vertical component of plasma drift velocity, as well as information about the relative ion composition. Range studied height is 100–1500 km.
Incoherent scatter radar was successfully used for the analysis of processes in the ionosphere not only in calm conditions, but during the rare events of strong magnetic storms, eclipses of the Sun, the starts of space vehicles.
The research results can be used to solve several applied problems (terrestrial and space radio communications, over-the-horizon radar, weather forecasting, earthquakes, etc.).