ABOVE Radio Reciever

Wildy is the engineering partner for the Instrument Hardware Design and Engineering Support for the ABOVE^2

ABOVE^2 is a balloon campaign that provides high-altitude measurements of X-rays and ELF/VLF radio waves in relation to electron precipitation from Earth's radiation belts.

The ABOVE^2 campaign was conducted between August 10 -  August 26, 2016. It consisted of 2 hand-launched balloons, each carrying an X-ray scintillator and a VLF radio receiver.

Joel Kesler, RMD Engineering Inc. (2016). ABOVE^2 launch in Summer 2016, Retrieved April 22, 2021 from https://wcm.ucalgary.ca/above2/home/description-above2-campaign

Electrons precipitating into the Earth's atmosphere at high latitudes from the Van Allen radiation belts undergo high-energy collisions with molecules in the atmosphere and produce Bremsstrahlung X-rays. These precipitation events are short-lived and spatially localized and so are termed electron microbursts.

The resulting X-ray spectrum can serve as an indicator of the electron energies but cannot be observed from the ground due to atmospheric absorption. During a microburst, VLF waves propagating beneath the ionosphere are also affected by the incoming electrons' ionization.

ABOVE^2 mission monitors microburst activity by simultaneously observing X-rays in conjunction with phase and amplitude measurements of VLF signals from distant transmitters.


Combined with the ground-based array of ABOVE receivers in addition to several portable receivers placed near the launch site, the signatures of microbursts on subionospheric propagating VLF waves should be observable across much of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

This will allow for a better characterization of microbursts' spatial scale, an important parameter related to the total energy they deposit into the Earth's atmosphere.

Calgary, U. O. (2016). Description of the Above^2 campaign. Retrieved April 22, 2021, from https://wcm.ucalgary.ca/above2/home/description-above2-campaign
Joel Kesler, RMD Engineering Inc. (2016). ABOVE^2 launch in Summer 2016. Retrieved April 22, 2021 from https://wcm.ucalgary.ca/above2

All funding for ABOVE^2 is provided by the Canadian Space Agency under the Flights for the Advancement of Science and Technology (FAST) contribution initiative.