International Geophysical Year (IGY) ran from July 1957 through December 1958 and was designed to
promote cooperation between countries in the earth sciences realm of research. In all, 67 countries
participated in various IGY projects. China declined involvement based on objections to Taiwan being involved,
arguably perpetuating its people's languishing behind the Iron Curtain of Communism much longer than it
otherwise would have. Global
studies were carried out for the aurora and airglow, cosmic rays, geomagnetism, gravity, the ionosphere,
longitude and latitude determinations, meteorology, oceanography, seismology, and solar activity. It was
during this period that the USSR launched Sputnik and the Van Allen radiation
belts were discovered. This article reports on the radio-communications-related IGY activities of the
U.S. National Bureau of Standards (NBS, now the National Institute of Standards and Technology - NIST).
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National Bureau of Standards' Role in IGY
One of two radio telescopes near Boulder, Colorado, operated by National Bureau of Standards.
will provide valuable information in fields of meteorology and radio communications.
The National Bureau
of Standards is playing an active, many-faceted role in the International Geophysical Year of 1957-58. From observation
stations widely scattered over the globe, the Bureau is collecting and analyzing data on many phases of upper atmospheric
physics and radio propagation. Centered in the Boulder Laboratories (Colorado) where most NBS radio propagation research
is carried on, the Bureau's part in the program includes studies of the ionosphere, forward scatter propagation,
various kinds of radio noise, airglow, and related phenomena.
The greatest part of the Bureau's effort will
be concerned with variations in the ionosphere. Because of its extensive studies along these lines, the Bureau has
been given responsibility for the ionospheric data program in the Western Hemisphere. As part of this phase, the
study of sporadic-E propagation will be intensified through the operation of controlled circuits.
with several South American laboratories, research will be conducted into ionospheric forward scatter in the equatorial
region. Further investigation of scatter will be made in the Caribbean in cooperation with the Navy and in the Far
East in conjunction with the "Voice of America" and the Japanese Radio Research Labs.
The Bureau is also
expected to learn more about radio interference and propagation through a study of radio noise. Sixteen worldwide
noise-observation stations have been set up.
In addition, a systematic recording and study of airglow, a
faint night-sky luminescence, will be undertaken with telescopic photometers. Two airglow observing stations have
been set up and photometers have been supplied to others in the American chain of 13 stations.
of the day-to-day system for observation coordination is the Bureau's radio forecasting center near Washington.
From this nerve center, warnings are flashed to scientists throughout the world for special conditions of observation.
Posted December 17, 2013
Sensitive photoelectric photometer used to observe airglow.
Special sounding stations set up for the IGY observations.