Impact on GNSS and satellite communication

Regarding the ground-to-satellite operations, additional effects have to be considered: The ionosphere regions can absorb or dampen radio signals, or they can bend radio waves, as well as reflecting the signals as described previously. The specific behavior depends on both the frequency of the radio signal as well as the characteristics of the ionosphere region involved.

Since Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) satellites use radio signals to determine locations, the accuracy of GPS can be severely reduced when those signals bend as they pass through ionosphere regions. Similarly, some radio communications can be disrupted if the frequency used is one that an ionosphere layer dampens or absorbs entirely, resulting in a weakened signal or even total loss of communications.

Scientists constantly measure and produce computer models of the ever-changing ionosphere so that people in charge of radio communications can anticipate disruptions. Most of these models rely on the Total Electron Content (TEC), a parameter that provides the total number of electrons integrated between two points, along a tube of one meter squared cross section, i.e., the electron columnar number density. Several models that provide maps of TEC and its deviations from the baseline values, are made available in PITHIA-NRF by INGV, DLR, UPC and ROB.



For questions, please contact