Global navigation satellite system (GNSS) signal simulator: an analysis of the effects of the local environment and atmosphere on receiver positioning

  • Andrew Smith

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Global Navigation Satellite Systems can provide position, velocity and time information to users using receiver hardware. The United States developed Global Positioning System (GPS) is the only current fully operational system; however further systems are in development. The GPS has shown considerable success for navigation, but it still has a number of problems that limit its accuracy. The two main problems are the ionosphere and local environment of the receiver. The ionosphere causes a delay and random rapid shifts in phase and amplitude (scintillation) to the signal. The local environment can provide the signal with multiple routes (multi-path) to the receiver. In this project a GPS signal simulator is developed, which models the effects of the ionosphere and multi-path on the modulated signals. The focus is made on the GPS system as the simulator measurements can be compared to the real measurements; however other systems will be considered in the future. A number of experiments investigating multi-path and ionospheric effects on a receiver’s ability to track the signals have been completed. The simulator has been used to replicate a real local multi-path environment and the results have been compared. Further investigations of the multi-path have shown a unique multi-path signature in the receiver power output. The later part of the thesis describes a case study investigating a short but rapid period of scintillation observed on three receivers based in Norway. An analysis of the multi-path environment was completed, but was found not to be the cause. The ionosphere was investigated using equipment based across Scandinavia. The equipment showed that geomagnetic conditions were disturbed at the time of the event. The GPS measurements were compared with all-sky camera data to show that the scintillation can be attributed to the GPS signal path crossing electron density structures associated with the aurora.
Date of Award1 Oct 2007
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorCathryn Mitchell (Supervisor) & Robert Watson (Supervisor)


  • ionosphere
  • multi-path
  • GPS

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