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The Puerto Rican initiative for Studies using Meteor Radar – PRISMA will deploy the first Caribbean all-sky VHF Meteor Radar in the island of Culebra, Puerto Rico. PRISMA’s goals involve determining the meteor’s climatology in Puerto Rico vicinities, and meteor flux properties, aiding research in planetary, meteor, and atmospheric sciences. PRISMA will also evaluate the potential of using meteor radar to study space debris, providing new tools to support the space environment’s protection. PRISMA is funded by the Advance Research Grants Program from Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust in March 2021. The all-sky VHF Meteor Radar was previously owned by the University of Illinois, and it was in operation at the Andes Lidar Observatory (ALO) in Chile. It was transferred to the University of Central Florida in August 2021. It is expected to be in operation by December 2021 at the Remote Optical Facility (ROF) of the Arecibo Observatory (AO) in Culebra. A 10ft by 8ft container is being prepared at AO to house and operate the radar.


Principal Investigator (Contact Person)
Dr. Pedrina Terra Santos

Dr. Flaviane Venditti
Dr. Christiano Brum
Dr. Julio Urbina
AO Support Team Carlos Perez Luis Quintero Christian Cortes


The Earth’s upper atmosphere is bombarded day and night by dust-sized meteoroids. These particles penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere, burn up, and are seen as meteors. Upon their ablation, meteor ionized trails are generated at altitudes between 70 and 140 km. In the past, meteors have been studied optically with photographic and TV cameras. The development of radars allowed more detailed studies about meteoroids and the atmosphere they interact with. All-sky VHF Meteor Radars in South America, Europe, and Alaska have been used over the past few decades to observe specular meteor ionized trails and derive meteor and aeronomical information that are critical to understanding the coupling and dynamical processes in the Earth’s atmosphere. In the Caribbean, meteor observations are outdated and limited to optical observations. In Puerto Rico, few meteor studies were carried out in the past using the high-power legacy Incoherent Scattering Radar (ISR) at Arecibo Observatory (AO). Therefore, the climatology of the influx meteor in Puerto Rico’s atmosphere is not well known.

PRISMA will advance meteor, atmospheric, and planetary research in Puerto Rico. PRISMA’s project includes the development of a novel analysis method to include the detection of non-specular meteors in addition to the classical specular meteor reflection that is commonly used nowadays. This transformative initiative will improve the understanding of sampling biases of current meteor observation techniques, enabling new research in meteor influx and their impact on the day-to-day variability of the Earth’s atmosphere. The unique Caribbean meteor dataset will help to address the open question on momentum and energy fluxes of gravity waves. PRISMA also focuses on the novel initiative of evaluating the potential in using the meteor radar to study space debris. With the advance of space missions, the number of debris increases, and the risks of having them causing significant damage to a satellite are imminent. PRISMA’s deliverables will benefit Puerto Rico in multiple ways: impacting the education of geographically isolated students in Culebra; opportunities in STEM fields; providing the scientific community with a continuous meteor dataset; improving the understanding of meteors and debris; and creating synergistic space to inspire future enterprises on space debris in PR and globally.


The long-term plan for PRISMA includes the engagement of PR’s ham radio operators in coordinated citizen science activities to implement remote stations around the island. The main idea is to use remote stations to detect forward scattering instead of backscattering signals from meteor trails. These additional receiving stations will significantly enhance meteor detection rates, extend the horizontal range of wind measurement, and even resolving horizontal variations of the wind field.


  • May 2021: PRISMA’s funding awarded by the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust (PRST)

  • August 2021: The all-sky VHF Meteor Radar was transferred to University of Central Florida (UCF) from the University of Illinois. RFI surveys were carried out in the frequency range of 20-120MHz and in the specific range of 30-45MHz. We used a discone antenna model Tram-1410 (25-1300MHz) on top of a 8ft pole, plugged to a Keysight FieldFox N9916A using a 50ft RG142 coaxial cable. I have photos and movies from this survey.

  • February 2022: The meteor radar arrived at the Arecibo Observatory. This radar was previously operating at the Andes Lidar Observatory (ALO), Chile. It was donated to UCF by the University of Illinois.

Currently, the radar is being tested and prepared to be transported to the Remote Optical Facility (ROF) in the island of Culebra.  A customized 10ft by 8ft container with all the requirements to house and operate the radar is been prepared at AO.



CARLA Sees First Light

The Culebra Aerosol Research Lidar (CARLA) has achieved a major milestone with its first measurement in May of 2022. This measurement demonstrates that all components such as the laser, lidar control electronics, data acquisition, and the setup of over 50 photonic and 200 optomechanical elements are working as designed. + Read More


In a very important milestone for the Puerto Rican Initiative for Studies Using Meteor Radar (PRISMA) project, the radar system arrived at the Arecibo Observatory (AO) in February of 2022.
The radar was previously operating at the Andes Lidar Observatory (ALO) in Chile. It was donated to the University of Central Florida / Arecibo Observatory by the University of Illinois. + Read More