Tuesday, 13 January 2009: 2:00 PM
Comparisons of space-based GPS occultation ionospheric scintillation measurements with ground-based VHF measurements
Room 126B (Phoenix Convention Center)
Ionospheric irregularities are known to cause scintillation of transionospheric radio signals and can affect space-based UHF/VHF communications, causing outages, and degrade GPS accuracy and precision. Current capability for characterizing and predicting ionospheric scintillation utilizes a network of ground-based receivers to detect scintillation and then extrapolate for short-term forecasts. Practical limits on deploying the ground receivers limits the accuracy and spatial coverage one can achieve with this approach. A more global approach is to use a set of space-based satellites equipped with GPS receivers, such as the COSMIC satellite constellation, to measure scintillations observed during so-called occultations with GPS satellites. The term occultation refers to the geometry where the clear line-of-sight path between the space-based GPS receiver and the GPS satellite is ultimately blocked, or occulted, by the earth's surface. Before or after occultation the ray-path passes through the lower atmosphere and ionosphere providing information on the total electron content (TEC) and irregularities between the transmitter and the receiver. In this paper the signal-to-noise values of GPS L1 signals received on the COSMIC and C/NOFS satellites are examined to help identify areas of ionospheric scintillation. The S4 scintillation index values from these occultations are compared with ground-based VHF S4 scintillation measurements from several equatorial stations. Preliminary results show that while there are cases where both the occultation and ground measurements indicate enhanced scintillation, there are also a number of cases where the occultation GPS S4 is significantly larger than the ground-based VHF S4, somewhat contrary to expectations given that scintillation effects generally increase with decreasing frequency. Reasons for high GPS S4 in the presence of relatively low VHF S4 include geometry differences between space- and ground-based observations, possible signal processing problems, and physical non-scintillation ionospheric features characterized by relatively short intense spikes in the signal-to-noise. We examine these parameters and look at developing algorithms to filter out non-related cases so that we develop an improved correlation between the space-based and ground-based scintillation values.