I arrived in Sodankylä, Finland on Sunday with a group of about 50 students and instructors. The group of students was incredibly diverse, with men and women from all over the world. Aside from the handful of American students, people had come from Peru, China, Japan, South Korea, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, England, and Canada, just to name a few. As a result, by the time we arrived most people were too exhausted to do any work. Instead, we unpacked and went for a walking tour of the area.
The town of Sodankylä is fairly small, only about 6,000 people live in the town proper. It’s a quiet region in Lapland (Northern Finland) with lots of wilderness. The mosquitoes weren’t quite as oppressive as I had feared and the fresh air was a nice break from 2 days of traveling in confined spaces.
Monday morning we started the week of school. The first couple of days were mostly classroom lectures. By the end of Tuesday, we were split into groups of 6 students to devise an experiment. Tuesday night we ran experiments using incoherent scatter radar (ISR) facilities across the globe.
On Tuesday night we were to execute the experiment we had designed that afternoon. Facilities in Alaska, Massachusetts, Peru, Greenland, and Norway would all be operating simultaneously and available for us to use. Our group had decided to use one of the Norway facilities to study aurora, but when we arrived for our scheduled time we were notified that the radar was having issues and would be unavailable.
Our group had about 2 minutes to throw out “Plan A” as well as “Plan B” that we were advised to come with and come up with a new idea. We were able to cobble together something on the fly and moved forward anyways because, hey, that’s life. Our group immediately set to work gathering data and ended up coming out OK, so it turned out not to be an issue. It pays to be flexible.
For the sake of brevity I’ll finish the rest of the week in another post. The week at ISR school was long and work-filled, but we found ways to have some fun too. Until next time…