Part 3
Projects & Landmarks
Environment / Landmark


Next generation European Incoherent Scatter radar system

An upgrade of the EISCAT systems to investigate the atmosphere and near-Earth space environment


The next generation European Incoherent Scatter radar system upgrade (EISCAT_3D) will be a three-dimensional imaging radar to study the atmosphere and the near-Earth space environment above the Fenno - Scandinavian Arctic as well as to support the solar system and radio astronomy sciences. The EISCAT_3D system will consist of a phased-array radar system located in Northern Fenno Scandinavia near space research centres in Kiruna (Sweden), Sodankylä (Finland) and Tromsø (Norway), two rocket launch facilities at Andøya (Norway) and Esrange (Sweden), and several other distributed instrument networks for geospace observation such as magnetometers and auroral cameras. The radar system is designed to investigate how the Earth’s atmosphere is coupled to space but it will also be suitable for a wide range of other scientific targets including climate change, space weather, plasma physics, space debris and near-Earth object studies.

In the ESFRI Roadmap since 2008, EISCAT_3D is in the Implementation Phase since June 2017 and operations are expected to start at the end of 2021.


EISCAT_3D will be an integral part of EISCAT Scientific Association which has successfully managed incoherent scatter radars on the mainland and on Svalbard for more than thirty-five years. The present EISCAT systems are fully integrated in the global network of incoherent scatter radars. The EISCAT_3D system will consist of five phased-array antenna fields located in the northernmost areas of Finland, Norway and Sweden. Each field will consist of around 10.000 crossed dipole antenna elements arranged in 109 hexagons in a honeycomb-structure. One of these sites – the core site – will transmit radio-waves at 233 MHz, and all five sites will have sensitive receivers to measure the returned radio signals. The central array of each site will be of a size of about 70 m from side to side, and the sites will be located from 90 km to 250 km from the core site in order to be able to maximise the coverage by the system.

EISCAT_3D is designed to use several different measurement techniques which, although they have individually been used elsewhere, have never been combined together in a single radar system. The design of EISCAT_3D allows large numbers of antennas to be combined together to make either a single radar beam, or a number of simultaneous beams, via beam-forming. EISCAT_3D will measure the spectra of radio-waves that are back-scattered from free electrons, whose motions are controlled by inherent ion-acoustic and electron plasma waves in the ionosphere. The measured spectra reveal high-resolution information on the ionospheric plasma parameters, but can also be used for obtaining atmospheric data and observations of meteors and space debris orbits. In both active and passive mode, the receivers will provide high-quality scientific and monitoring data from the ionosphere as well as from space within its designed frequency spectrum. The research will both be organized through common observation modes and through requests from individual groups.


The original scientific vision for EISCAT_3D was that it would become a RI almost fully dedicated to the research area of solar-terrestrial physics. This is an area of physics where the interaction between the Sun and the Earth is studied, which is significant for most aspects of human life. Understanding, and being able to predict, the effects of solar-terrestrial processes has profound consequences for a range of practical applications including long-term global climate change, human space-flight, satellite operations, communications, position finding, terrestrial monitoring, long-distance energy transport and human health.

EISCAT_3D, while functioning mainly as a radar for scientific research, was also envisioned to have a substantial user community from the applied sciences sector, requiring data products relevant to the above mentioned applications. Additionally, it was also designed to be used as a vehicle to advance all aspects of the incoherent scatter technique, including the development of new methods of radar coding, signal processing and data analysis.

legal status
EISCAT Scientific Association, 1975
political support
lead country
members countries
The full list of research institutions involved must be found in the website of the RI
Roadmap Entry
Design Phase
Preparation Phase
Interim/Transition Phase
Implementation/Construction Phase
Operation Start
estimated costs
capital value
123 M€
2.6 M€
8.5 M€
72.2 M€
5.1 M€/year

EISCAT Scientific Association
Kiruna, Sweden