Thursday, June 14, 2018

Birds and radio waves

Today we had a warmer, sunny day... for a little while at least! Students have continued working on their research projects, but we also had two small activities during the day for students to learn about research happening around the station.

We were lucky enough to go again with Antero, this time to visit his "bird boxes". There are about 200 of these bird houses in this valley, used by several of the species native to the area. For many years, Antero has recorded the number and size of eggs and chicks born in these bird boxes, to track the health of the bird populations in this area.

Can you guess what Antero has in his hand that the students are so eagerly gathered around and photographing?
It's newborn chicks of the species of bird called the "great tit"!

We also visited KAIRA, which stands for Kilpisjarvi Atmospheric Imaging Receiver Array. It is an array of radio receivers that detect low and high frequency radio waves from space. That allows them to measure things like meteors, space trash, planets and stars "twinkling", and the aurora borealis. KAIRA is just down the road from us, so their scientists often stay here when they're working on the array. Derek gave us a tour. On the left of the photo are the low-frequency antennae on poles, and the structures in the center house the high-frequency antennae, held above the ground by the wooden structures.
Interestingly, the wooden structures were made out of the pallets used to ship the equipment. The entire project was designed to create very little waste and reuse even the shipping materials.

We even got to crawl under the high-frequency receivers, which are raised off the ground to increase the ability of the wind to blow snow off of the antennae, which are placed in foam beneath the black plastic. It was nice, because it got us out of the cold wind that came back this afternoon! The shorter of our students could juuuust stand up under them, but the taller students had a harder time: