The Transition Region Explorer (TREx): Observing the Multi-Scale Dynamics of Geospace

January 1, 2015

This is the new and exciting project that the University of Calgary - Auroral Imaging Group (My group) is currently developing. The Transition Region Explorer (TREx) is a global space science and upper atmosphere exploration project, that will count with ground-based instruments across Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories in Canada.




Below is the abstract presented during AGU_Fall Meeting 2015 by Eric Donovan, the PI of the project:



Meso- and global-scale IT remote sensing is accomplished via satellite imagers and ground-based instruments. On the ground, the approach is arrays providing extensive as possible coverage (the "net") and powerful observatories that drill deep to provide detailed information about small-scale processes (the "drill"). Always, there is a trade between cost, spatial resolution, coverage (extent), number of parameters, and more, such that in general the larger the network the sparser the coverage. Where are we now? There are important gaps. With THEMIS-ASI, we see processes that quickly evolve beyond the field of view of one observatory, but involve space/time scales not captured by existing meso- and large-scale arrays. Many forefront questions require observations at heretofore unexplored space and time scales, and comprehensive inter-hemispheric conjugate observations than are presently available. To address this, a new ground-based observing initiative is being developed in Canada. Called TREx, for Transition Region Explorer, this new facility will incorporate dedicated blueline, redline, and Near-Infrared All-Sky Imagers, together with an unprecedented network of ten imaging riometers, with a combined field of view spanning more than three hours of magnetic local time and from equatorward to poleward of typical auroral latitudes (spanning the ionospheric footprint of the “nightside transition region” that separates the highly stretched tail and the inner magnetosphere). The TREx field-of-view is covered by HF radars, and contains a dense network of magnetometers and VLF receivers, as well as other geospace and upper atmospheric remote sensors. Taken together, TREx and these co-located instruments represent a quantum leap forward in terms of imaging, in multiple parameters (precipitation, ionization, convection, and currents), ionospheric dynamics in the above-mentioned scale gap. This represents an exciting new opportunity for studying geospace at the system level, especially for using the aurora to remote sense magnetospheric plasma physics and dynamics, and comes with a set of Big Data challenges that are going to be exciting. One such challenge is the development of a fundamentally new type of data product, namely time series of multi-parameter, geospatially referenced ‘data cubes’.



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Bea Gallardo-Lacourt

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