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Satellite positioning influenced by the ionosphere

The ionosphere of the Earth constantly varies, depending on the time of day, the season, the geographical position, and the level of solar activity. This area of the atmosphere consists of several conductive layers that reflect radio waves, a characteristic which is of interest for scientists and engineers, especially in the telecommunications industry.

The condition of the ionosphere affects the quality of traditional radio communication. In our space era of satellites, we may wonder whether this ancient way of communicating and the study of the ionosphere are still “current topics”.

The answer is definitely yes! The ionosphere, for instance, (strongly) affects the signals that satellites communicate.

Galileo
Positioning system Galileo. Credits ESA.

Understanding and predicting the turbulent regions of the ionosphere and their effects on satellite communications has important applications for military operations in remote locations, planned networks of mobile communications satellites, high-precision applications of global navigation satellite systems (U.S. GPS, Russian GLONASS and European Galileo), and many others.

 

 

 

Only imagine what the consequences would be, if the data from such a positioning system was badly affected by the evolution in the ionosphere’s condition and was not corrected.

Therefore it is vital that we continuously track the ionized layers in our upper atmosphere.

Back to article about the Ionosphere

 

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