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Greenland Space Symposium


Space scientists performing boundary layer experiments at the edge of Greenland ice cap.


The Greenland Space Science Symposium was arranged in Kangerlussuaq as part of the International Polar Year activities from the 4 to 9 May.  The Symposium solemnized the rich history of Greenland as a forum for versatile instrumentation monitoring various processes in the near-Earth space. For example, the behavior of ionospheric electric currents have been monitored now for 35 years with Danish magnetometer chains operating in the Greenland coastal regions. Almost equally long data records (25 years) of plasma densities, velocities, and temperatures have been collected with the US incoherent scatter radar operating in Kelly Ville. Roughly 70 space scientists from 14 countries participated the Symposium whose program included historical reviews, scientific presentations and introductions of state-of-art instrumentation. Contents of these presentations are planned to be published in special issues of scientific journals so we below concentrate mainly to the informal part of the meeting.

First appearance

What an interesting flight from Stratton Air Base in Albany (New York) to Kangerlussuaq in Greenland! Interesting because it was full of cargo and people, because we were all keen on getting to our destination, and because it was too noisy to hold a conversation - and scientist are never quiet. After 6-7 hours sleep on a hammock type seat we finally landed in sunny, almost snow-free Kangerlussuaq. The air temperature surprised all of us who had dressed warm for the possibly chilly flight. It was around 0C with almost no wind. Amazing!

Gentle hills around the town in a river valley, snow on the northern slopes, and lots of daylight. To me the place looked much like Longyearbyen on Svalbard. I felt like home from the start and found people to go out hiking with as soon as we got breakfast the next morning.  A few hours in the wilderness and the first glimpse of the huge inland glacier made us ready to start the meeting after a great lunch.


First two days were intended to meet the interests of the local people in addition to opening the mind for us scientists. It was delightful to hear about the science history in Greenland, the past excursions and campaign, the move of the incoherent scatter radar, and all the interesting memories from the people involved. We learnt to respect the size of the arctic hares before we even saw any (Thanks to Bob Robinson!).


The excursion of the week to us to the inland icecap. Many of us had never been walking on a glacier before but for all of us the ice showed all the different shades of blue. Absolutely stunning! And since scientists never really grow up, we experienced a lovely hour or so walking, gliding, slipping and bum sliding on the ice. Independently of our age, we all played and had a lot of fun. We had lunch at a glacier viewpoint and the local wildlife was introduced to us by our guide and bus driver on the way. What more could one hope? ...well, the radar tour, of course. Another bumpy bus ride took us to the S

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