Ionosphere Profile Estimation Using Ionosonde & GPS Data in an Inverse Refraction Calculation

Monday, 15 December 2014: 4:00 PM
Mark L. Psiaki, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, United States
A method has been developed to assimilate ionosonde virtual heights and GPS slant TEC data to estimate the parameters of a local ionosphere model, including estimates of the topside and of latitude and longitude variations. This effort seeks to better assimilate a variety of remote sensing data in order to characterize local (and eventually regional and global) ionosphere electron density profiles.

The core calculations involve a forward refractive ray-tracing solution and a nonlinear optimal estimation algorithm that inverts the forward model. The ray-tracing calculations solve a nonlinear two-point boundary value problem for the curved ionosonde or GPS ray path through a parameterized electron density profile. It implements a full 3D solution that can handle the case of a tilted ionosphere. These calculations use Hamiltonian equivalents of the Appleton-Hartree magneto-plasma refraction index model. The current ionosphere parameterization is a modified Booker profile. It has been augmented to include latitude and longitude dependencies. The forward ray-tracing solution yields a given signal's group delay and beat carrier phase observables. An auxiliary set of boundary value problem solutions determine the sensitivities of the ray paths and observables with respect to the parameters of the augmented Booker profile. The nonlinear estimation algorithm compares the measured ionosonde virtual-altitude observables and GPS slant-TEC observables to the corresponding values from the forward refraction model. It uses the parameter sensitivities of the model to iteratively improve its parameter estimates in a way the reduces the residual errors between the measurements and their modeled values.

This method has been applied to data from HAARP in Gakona, AK and has produced good TEC and virtual height fits. It has been extended to characterize electron density perturbations caused by HAARP heating experiments through the use of GPS slant TEC data for an LOS through the heated zone.

The next planned extension of the method is to estimate the parameters of a regional ionosphere profile. The input observables will be slant TEC from an array of GPS receivers and group delay and carrier phase observables from an array of high-frequency beacons. The beacon array will function as a sort of multi-static ionosonde.