The main interests of the group are twofold, combining research of the Earth's space environment, through observations of high-latitude phenomena, with innovative design and operation of ground-based space research facilities. As well as providing a wide variation in subject for graduate projects the dual nature of the group allows for increased expertise in the design and implementation of space-probing instruments and a certain amount of cross disciplinary knowledge.
Fundamental to the group's research are the varied ground-based instruments that the group operates and have deployed in the UK and Scandinavia. The Sub-Auroral Magnetometer NETwork (SAMNET) records magnetic disturbances resulting from ionospheric currents. The Imaging Riometer for Ionospheric Studies (IRIS) is sensitive to radio wave absorption caused by high-energy particle precipitation; this provides an ability to study the wave-particle dynamics in the magnetosphere. Optical imaging is performed by the DASI and SCASI camera systems, allowing the study of the optical aurora and also artificial optical emissions induced by the interaction of high-power radio waves with the ionosphere (see below). A Fabry-Perot Interferometer (FPI) is also used to measure the wind speed and temperature in the neutral atmosphere at high altitudes (mesosphere and thermosphere).
The group is currently building two sophisticated ionospheric imagers; ARIES (Advanced Rio Imaging Experiment in Scandinavia) will provide the ability to probe the ionosphere with unprecedented spatial resolution and AIRIS is a sister facility to IRIS, which will be located to support the space research activities of ALOMAR and the Andøya rocket range in Norway.
The group also has access to a range of powerful facilities for space weather research. One example is the European Incoherent Scatter facility (EISCAT), owned by 6 nations including the UK, which consists of 3 of the most sophisticated high-power UHF and VHF radar systems in the world. EISCAT also has the world's largest high-power HF transmitter, capable of temporarily modifying the natural ionosphere, for fundamental wave-plasma and radio propagation research. Through combined use of these facilities, the group is engaged in world-leading research and, as a result, has numerous international links.