Calibration tower, Antarctica

The Dome Experiment, DOMEX-3, offers multiyear, continuous observations of the ice sheet at the Concordia station in Antarctica. The measurements are made by a new multi-frequency, dual-polarisation, passive microwave radiometer positioned on a tower.

This new instrument is based on the Radomex radiometer built by IFAC-CNR’s Institute of Applied Physics in Florence, Italy, which operated successfully in 2008–2010. However, Radomex was not designed for long autonomous operation in the extremely harsh Antarctic climate.

The newly designed radiometer operates autonomously and transmits data to Europe remotely, despite the demanding environment. The radiometer was calibrated, tested before being shipping to the Concordia station. It started operations in late 2012, during the austral summer.

This multiyear experiment is in support of ESA’s Soil Moisture Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission.


  • Continuous measurement data from the surface of the ice sheet by simultaneous observations from a multi-frequency dual-polarisation radiometer and a collocated thermal infra-red radiometer over a period of time, spanning multiple annual cycles.
  • Collection of a time-series brightness temperature measurements at L-band with sufficient calibration accuracy, stability, drift, and of sufficient duration to allow analyses of seasonal variances owing to changes in emission and temperature of the observed snow and ice layers.
  • Mitigation and correction for interference sources in the data.
  • Provision of external ice-sheet target calibration reference brightness temperature, and the basis for calibration monitoring, and/or verification of brightness temperature products in support of the SMOS mission, especially for re-processing exercises.
  • Evaluation of the Total Electron Content impact on the temporal stability of the SMOS h-, v-polarised and 1st Stokes parameter measurements in a peak period of Sun activity using Total Electron Content data collected onsite for the duration of the experiment.

DOMEX-3 at a glance

Location: DOME-C, Antarctica
Platform: Tower
Sensors: Microwave radiometer, thermal infrared radiometer
Period: December 2012–December 2015
Status: Ongoing
Related mission: Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity Earth Explorer
Principal investigator: Giovanni Macelloni, IFAC, Italy
ESA coordinator: Tânia Casal
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