March 31, 2001 geomagnetic storm
Data analysis tools
by Volker Grassmann, DF5AI, December 13, 2002
The BeamFinder software
BeamFinder  is a software tool designed to support amateur radio propagation studies with a variety of calculation tools, radio propagation models and graphical features. The software provides a large 2500 x 1800 pixel screen map of the world and deals with quantities the radio amateur is already familiar with, i.e. grid squares, geographical coordinates, distances, antenna headings and frequencies. Detailed information is available on the http://www.beamfinder.net web site.
Locating the geographical positions of Aurora backscatter
In this project, we are in particular interested in the software's capability to analyse the geometry of bistatic backscatter of radiowaves originating from E region irregularities aligned to the Earth's magnetic field. BeamFinder also provides the unique feature of estimating the geographical positions of Aurora backscatter without using antenna headings or any other type of directional information. The details are explained in a dedicated section of this project documentation.
Processing POES satellite data
This project has received a very special support from the POES team at NASA resulting in 59 polar plots displaying the Auroral activity on March 31, 2001. An enhanced version of BeamFinder allows the import of the POES data in the program's map presentation, see fig. 1. With this feature, BeamFinder's standard analyses in Auroral backscatter may be combined with satellite data which will hopefully support new types of analyses, see the section Auroral activity versus QSO activity.
Meanwhile, this unique feature has been opened to all registered BeamFinder users, i.e. the user may download actual POES data from the internet and may display the actual Auroral activity on BeamFinder's Maidenhead grid locator screen map.
Because of the large data volume to be processed by this project and because of the requirement of creative methods in data visualisation, it is perhaps worth to catch a glimpse of the standard tools used in this project.