Design and validation of probes and sensors for the characterization of magneto-ionic radio wave propagation on Near Vertical Incidence Skywave paths

Ben A. Witvliet, Rosa M. Alsina-Pagès, Erik Van Maanen, Geert J. Laanstra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article describes the design and validation of deployable low-power probes and sensors to investigate the influence of the ionosphere and the Earth’s magnetic field on radio wave propagation below the plasma frequency of the ionosphere, known as Near Vertical Incidence Skywave (NVIS) propagation. The propagation of waves that are bent downward by the ionosphere is dominated by a bi-refractive mechanism called ‘magneto-ionic propagation’. The polarization of both downward waves depends on the spatial angle between the Earth’s magnetic field and the direction of propagation of the radio wave. The probes and sensors described in this article are needed to simultaneously investigate signal fading and polarization dynamics on six radio wave propagation paths. The 1-Watt probes realize a 57 dB signal-to-noise ratio. The probe polarization is controlled using direct digital synthesis and the cross-polarization is 25–35 dB. The intermodulation-free dynamic range of the sensor exceeds 100 dB. Measurement speed is 3000 samples/second. This publication covers design, practical realization and deployment issues. Research performed with these devices will be shared in subsequent publications.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2616
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2019


  • deployable
  • magneto-ionic
  • magnetic field
  • polarization
  • fading
  • ionosphere
  • radio wave propagation
  • Near Vertical Incidence Skywave (NVIS)
  • circular polarization
  • Fading
  • Polarization
  • Circular polarization
  • Deployable
  • Magneto-ionic
  • Radio wave propagation
  • Magnetic field
  • Ionosphere

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Instrumentation
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Biochemistry

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