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To establish the first AMISR face at both a scientifically interesting and logistically friendly location, the Poker Flat Research Range (PFRR) was selected. The Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, owns PFRR, the only university-owned rocket range in the world. PFRR is used for scientific sounding rocket launches where the mission objectives usually involve auroral and polar middle- and upper-atmosphere research. The PFRR offers an auroral zone location and an impressive clustering of scientific instruments that operate standalone and in support of sounding rocket experiments. The AMISR face, designated PFISR for Poker Flat ISR, is located on an existing gravel pad near the launch pads. Onsite user access and office space are provided in the T. Neil Davis Science Center. The antenna bore sight is tilted to the north, with an angle of 16 degrees from the zenith and an azimuth of 15 degrees geographic. The radar orientation was chosen to optimally support rocket experiments at Poker Flat while maintaining the ability to probe the ionosphere near the magnetic zenith.
The coverage of the PFISR grating-lobe free observing area. The contours mark the radar’s field of view at 100, 200, 300, and 400 km altitude. The electronic steering capability of the PFISR system allows it to point anywhere nearly instantaneously within these contours.