Ionospheric Imaging to Improve GPS Timing

  • Julian Rose

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Single-frequency Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers do not accurately compensate for the ionospheric delays imposed upon GPS signals. This can lead to significant errors and single-frequency systems rely upon models to compensate. This investigation applies 4D (four-dimensional) ionospheric tomography to GPS timing for the first time. The tomographic algorithm, MIDAS (Multi-Instrument Data Analysis System), is used to correct for the ionospheric delay and the results are compared to existing single and dual-frequency techniques. Days during the solar maximum years 2002, 2003 and 2004 have been chosen to display results when the ionospheric delays are large and variable. Maps of the ionospheric electron density, across Europe, are produced by using data collected from a fixed network of dual-frequency GPS receivers.Results that improve upon the use of existing ionospheric models are achieved for fixed (static) and mobile (moving) GPS receiver scenarios. The effects of excluding all of the GPS satellites below various elevation masks, ranging from 5° to 40°, on timing solutions for fixed and mobile situations are also presented. The greatest timing accuracies when using the fixed GPS receiver technique are obtained by using the highest mask. The mobile GPS timing solutions are most accurate when satellites at lower elevations continue to be included. Furthermore, timing comparisons are made across baselines up to ~4000 km and the ionospheric errors are shown to increase with increasing baseline. GPS time transfer is then investigated and MIDAS is shown to improve the time transfer stabilities of a single-frequency GPS system. The results are comparable to the dual-frequency time transfer after ~2 hours averaging time.Overall, the MIDAS technique provides the most accurate and most stable results (comparable to dual-frequency) for a single-frequency based GPS system. Ionospheric corrections (via MIDAS) may be broadcast to users nationally or via the internet for example, opening up the possibility of improving the accuracy and stability of single-frequency GPS systems in real-time.
Date of Award1 Jun 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorCathryn Mitchell (Supervisor) & Robert Watson (Supervisor)


  • Timing
  • Ionosphere
  • Tomography
  • GPS

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