Measurement of ionospheric total electron content using single frequency geostationary satellite observations

Chelsey Cooper, Cathryn Mitchell, Corwin Wright, David R. Jackson, Ben A. Witvliet

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12 Citations (SciVal)
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The ionised upper portion of the atmosphere, the ionosphere, affects radio signals travelling between satellites and the ground. This degrades the performance of satellite navigation, surveillance and communication systems. Techniques to measure and mitigate ionospheric effects and in particular to measure the total electron content, the TEC, are therefore required. TEC is usually determined by analysing the differential delay experienced by dual‐frequency signals. Here, we demonstrate a technique which enables TEC to be derived using single frequency signals passing between geostationary satellites and terrestrial Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers. Geostationary satellites offer the key advantage that the ray‐paths are not moving and hence are easier to interpret than standard GPS TEC. Daily TEC time series are derived for three ground receivers from Europe over the year 2015. The technique is validated by correlation analysis both between pairs of ground receiver observations and between ground receivers and independent ionosonde observations. The correlation between pairs of receivers over a year shows good agreement. Good agreement was also seen between the TEC time series and ionosonde data, suggesting the technique is reliable and routinely produces realistic ionospheric information. The technique is not suitable for use on every GPS receiver type because drift in derived TEC values was observed for profiles calculated using receivers without links to highly stable clocks. The demonstrated technique has the potential to become a routine method to derive TEC, helping to map the ionosphere in real time and to mitigate ionospheric effects on radio systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-19
Number of pages10
JournalRadio Science
Issue number1
Early online date9 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2019


  • GPS
  • TEC
  • ionosphere
  • single frequency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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