Heliophysics and amateur radio: citizen science collaborations for atmospheric, ionospheric, and space physics research and operations

Nathaniel A. Frissell, John R. Ackermann, Jesse N. Alexander, Robert L. Benedict, William C. Blackwell, Rachel K. Boedicker, Stephen A. Cerwin, Kristina V. Collins, Scott H. Cowling, Chris Deacon, Devin M. Diehl, Francesca Di Mare, Timothy J. Duffy, Laura Brandt Edson, William D. Engelke, James O. Farmer, Rachel M. Frissell, Robert B. Gerzoff, John Gibbons, Gwyn GriffithsSverre Holm, Frank M. Howell, Stephen R. Kaeppler, George Kavanagh, David Kazdan, Hyomin Kim, David R. Larsen, Vincent E. Ledvina, William Liles, Sam Lo, Michael A. Lombardi, Elizabeth A. Macdonald, Julius Madey, Thomas C. McDermott, David G. McGaw, Robert W. McGwier, Gary A. Mikitin, Ethan S. Miller, Cathryn Mitchell, Aidan Montare, Cuong D. Nguyen, Peter N. Nordberg, Gareth W. Perry, Gerard N. Piccini, Stanley W. Pozerski, Robert H. Reif, Jonathan D. Rizzo, Robert S. Robinett, Veronica I. Romanek, Simal Sami, Diego F. Sanchez, Muhammad Shaaf Sarwar, Jay A. Schwartz, H. Lawrence Serra, H. Ward Silver, Tamitha Mulligan Skov, David A. Swartz, David R. Themens, Francis H. Tholley, Mary Lou West, Ronald C. Wilcox, David Witten, Ben A. Witvliet, Nisha Yadav

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The amateur radio community is a global, highly engaged, and technical community with an intense interest in space weather, its underlying physics, and how it impacts radio communications. The large-scale observational capabilities of distributed instrumentation fielded by amateur radio operators and radio science enthusiasts offers a tremendous opportunity to advance the fields of heliophysics, radio science, and space weather. Well-established amateur radio networks like the RBN, WSPRNet, and PSKReporter already provide rich, ever-growing, long-term data of bottomside ionospheric observations. Up-and-coming purpose-built citizen science networks, and their associated novel instruments, offer opportunities for citizen scientists, professional researchers, and industry to field networks for specific science questions and operational needs. Here, we discuss the scientific and technical capabilities of the global amateur radio community, review methods of collaboration between the amateur radio and professional scientific community, and review recent peer-reviewed studies that have made use of amateur radio data and methods. Finally, we present recommendations submitted to the U.S. National Academy of Science Decadal Survey for Solar and Space Physics (Heliophysics) 2024–2033 for using amateur radio to further advance heliophysics and for fostering deeper collaborations between the professional science and amateur radio communities. Technical recommendations include increasing support for distributed instrumentation fielded by amateur radio operators and citizen scientists, developing novel transmissions of RF signals that can be used in citizen science experiments, developing new amateur radio modes that simultaneously allow for communications and ionospheric sounding, and formally incorporating the amateur radio community and its observational assets into the Space Weather R2O2R framework. Collaborative recommendations include allocating resources for amateur radio citizen science research projects and activities, developing amateur radio research and educational activities in collaboration with leading organizations within the amateur radio community, facilitating communication and collegiality between professional researchers and amateurs, ensuring that proposed projects are of a mutual benefit to both the professional research and amateur radio communities, and working towards diverse, equitable, and inclusive communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1184171
JournalFrontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics


  • HamSCI
  • amateur radio
  • citizen science
  • ham radio
  • heliophysics
  • ionosphere
  • space weather


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