The PITHIA-NRF project

Plasmasphere Ionosphere Thermosphere Integrated Research Environment and Access services: a Network of Research Facilities (PITHIA-NRF)


Overview of the PITHIA-NRF project

PITHIA-NRF aims at building a European distributed network that integrates observing facilities, data processing tools and prediction models dedicated to ionosphere, thermosphere and plasmasphere research. For the first time, PITHIA-NRF integrates on a European scale, and opens up, to all European researchers, key national and regional research infrastructures such as EISCAT, LOFAR, Ionosondes and Digisondes, GNSS receivers, Doppler sounding systems, riometers, and VLF receivers, ensuring optimal use and joint development. PITHIA-NRF is designed to provide organized access to experimental facilities, FAIR data, standardized data products, training and innovation services. Furthermore, PITHIA-NRF facilitates drastically research advances in the field of upper atmosphere and near-Earth space, through the integration of data collections from satellite missions (such as Cluster, DEMETER, Swarm and CHAMP) and results from key prediction models (such as IPIM-IRAP, MCM-SWAMI, SWIF and EUHFORIA) that can be accessed by scientific users for join exploitation with the data collected from the research infrastructures of the network.

PITHIA-NRF paves the way for new observing technologies, and to standard-making processes for software and highlevel data products that are tuned to meet the requirements of technologies concerned, linking best-in-class R&D facilities to provide seamless multi-technology services.


Objectives of the PITHIA-NRF project

Objective 1

PITHIA-NRF provides effective and convenient access to the best European research facilities (nodes) for the upper atmosphere. Access is provided to scientific users, from academia, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), large companies and public organizations. Access is subsidized through the Transnational Access (TNA) programme, and gives the possibility for external research teams to perform their own projects working in one of the PITHIA-NRF nodes, learning how to operate the observing facilities end-to-end, i.e. from setting up a special campaign, to the collection, analysis and exploitation of data using the project tools and services.

Objective 2

PITHIA-NRF develops integration tools that enable the establishment of a comprehensive Research Infrastructure. This set of tools is provided through the PITHIA-NRF e-science center, a dedicated knowledge hub that provides open access to FAIR data and higher-level data-products. These tools cover data discovery, data standardization, data quality control, publicly-accessible workflow applications to automate the calculation of data-products, and tools to enable the registration of new datasets and new models. An additional set of integration tools targets to the optimization of observing strategies through the release of standardized operation protocols, management tools, and training procedures for operators. These integration tools are expected to lead to the optimal use and joint development of the PITHIA-NRF observing facilities.

Objective 3

Through connection with the European Open Science Cloud, the e-science center of PITHIA-NRF provides long-term observational data, required for advancing our knowledge in the Ionospheric, Thermospheric and Plasmaspheric research domain. PITHIA-NRF provides access to data from ground-based instruments such as GNSS ground based receivers, Ionosondes, Digisondes, Dynasondes, Doppler Sounders, Incoherent Scatter Radars, Riometers, All Sky Imagers, and the LOFAR radio telescope. It also provides access to data from satellite experiments, including in situ, Radio Occultation and Topside Sounding observations.

Objective 4

PITHIA-NRF provides organized and systematic training on the use of observing facilities and of the integration tools. Training is towards project partners and towards external users, in particular students, scientists from countries with no tradition in space research, engineers from the R&D departments of private companies and large organizations. Training is provided through workshops, schools, webinars, and on-site sessions to users who then get the approval to implement their projects in one of PITHIA-NRF nodes.

Objective 5

Looking to the future, the overarching aim of the PITHIA-NRF project is to create a European distributed research infrastructure that will provide a range of research support services to the upper atmosphere research community. To meet this goal, the PITHIA-NRF builds the innovation platform to promote cooperation between stakeholders and sets the standards for future collaboration (i.e. the IPR policies for the exploitation of the services). It also provides the tools for continuous interaction with users, promotion of the PITHIA-NRF activities and services to the public and to the stakeholders, and promotes joint public-private collaboration for high-risk innovation and close-to-market activities.