Radio occultation techniques for probing the ionosphere

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N. Jakowski
R. Leitinger
M. Angling


GPS radio occultation measurements establish the basis for a new remote sensing technique for vertical profile information on the electron density of the entire ionosphere from satellite orbit
heights down to the bottomside. No other profiling technique such as vertical sounding or incoherent scatter, unifies vertical profiling through the entire ionosphere with global coverage. Inversion
methods are described both for vertical profiling as well as for tree dimensional electron density reconstructions of the ionosphere. In three dimensional electron density reconstructions using signals from Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), the Ionospheric Radio Occultation (IRO) measurements provide vertical information which is complementary to the information obtained by ground based measurements. Assessment of achievable accuracy and spatial resolution are addressed by simulation studies. IRO measurements have been carried out onboard the German
CHAMP satellite since 11 April 2001 on a routine basis. Assuming a spherically layered ionosphere, up to about 150 Electron Density Profiles (EDPs) per day are retrieved within a latency of 3 h. Validation results obtained by using independent data sources are reported. The validation with vertical sounding data in mid-latitudes indicates a small positive bias in the plasma frequency of up to about 0.5 MHz throughout the entire profile. Averages of the numerous EDPs show wellknown
ionospheric phenomena such as the equatorial anomaly, the winter anomaly and the expansion of the profile with increasing solar energy input. It is concluded that CHAMP-IRO measurements
have the potential to establish global data sets of vertical electron density profiles for developing and improving global ionospheric models and to provide operational space weather information.

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How to Cite
Jakowski, N., Leitinger, R. and Angling, M. (2004) “Radio occultation techniques for probing the ionosphere”, Annals of Geophysics, 47(2-3 Sup.). doi: 10.4401/ag-3285.

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