Space Physics

Space physics research at the IFT at UiT in Tromsø addresses the Earth's upper atmosphere, the ionosphere and the magnetosphere and related plasma physics; small solar system objects, mesospheric and cosmic dust and dusty plasma phenomena.

The Space physics group uses radar and radio remote sensing techniques, optical observations and laboratory experiments on space plasma processes, is involved in planetary radar observations and space debris studies, carries out measurements from rockets and is involved with satellite and space probe missions.

UiT in Tromsø has in its vicinity one of the best conditions for optical studies of the polar atmosphere and infrastructure for studies of the high-latitude upper atmosphere. Tromsø is also conveniently located for observational projects carried out from Svalbard. The space physics group is involved in the implementation of the advanced radar project EISCAT3D and UiT leads the Norwegian contribution to this international project. Group members participate in international projects and collaborate with other institutions in Norway and around the world.

The northern lights, visible at high latitudes and often seen in Tromsø are a well-known phenomenon literally illuminating the coupling between Earth’s atmosphere and the magnetosphere and the solar wind. Conditions and processes here are controlled and driven by the influx of electromagnetic radiation and charged particles (the solar wind) that originate from the Sun and control the near-Earth space weather. Cosmic dust particles that hit the Earth lead to dusty plasma phenomena in the upper polar atmosphere; they act as seeds for Noctilucent Clouds that are visibly observed and Polar Mesospheric Summer Echoes that are observed with radar. Foto: Njål Gulbrandsen