The ionospheric impact on GPS performance in southern polar region

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The primary objective of this paper is to present the results of the study of the effects of varying ionospheric conditions on the GPS signal tracking in the southern polar region. In the first stage of this study, the data collected by the OSU/USGS team in October-November 2003 within the TAMDEF (Transantarctic Mountains Deformation) network were used together with some IGS Antarctic stations to study the effect of severe ionospheric storms on GPS hardware. Note that TAMDEF is a joint USGS/OSU project with the primary objective of measuring crustal motion in the Transantarctic Mountains of Southern Victoria Land using GPS techniques. This study included ten Antarctic stations equipped with different dual-frequency GPS hardware, and the data were evaluated for two 24-hour periods of severe ionospheric storm (2003/10/29) and moderate ionospheric conditions (minor storm of 2003/11/11). The results of this study were presented at the LAG Assembly in Cairns, Australia (Grejner-Brzezinska et al., 2005). Additional tests, in a more controlled environment, were carried out at the US Antarctic station, McMurdo, between January 10 and February 6, 2006, under varying ionospheric conditions, where several different types of receivers were connected to the same antenna located on the rooftop of the Crary Laboratory (the primary test site). In this scenario, each antenna was subject to identical ionospheric effects during each day of the test, and no spatial decorrelation effects were present, as seen in the previous study, due to the spatial separation of the receivers tested. It should be noted, however, that no moderate or severe ionospheric storms occurred during the experiment, so, unfortunately, this type of conditions was not tested here. The test was repeated with different receivers connected to different antenna types; a total of four 5-day sessions were carried out. The following receiver types were used at the primary site: Trimble 5700, Ashtech Z-Surveyor, JNS Euro-80 and Novatel DL-4, with the following antennas: Trimble Zephyr Geodetic, Ashtech D/M and Ashtech E/M chokering. In addition, data collected by the MCM4 IGS station, MCMD UNAVCO station, and CRAR USGS station, all located within 300 m from the primary test site, were used in the analyses. These stations were equipped with the following receiver/antenna combinations: ADA SNR-12/AOAD/MJT chokering (MCM4), Trimble NETRS/AOAD/MJT chokering (MCMD), and TPS ODYSEY_E/JPSREGANT_DD_E (CRAR). The UNAVCO TEQC software was used to carry out the analyses. Depending on the data sampling rate and the mask angle, the expected numbers of observations per receiver/satellite were compared to the actual number of measurements collected during the ionospheric events, with a special emphasis on L2 data. A total number of cycle slips and losses of lock were computed and compared among the hardware types. The results presented here indicate that there is no significant effects on the GPS receivers during minor ionospheric storms (Kp<5). However, the results reported in ibid, indicate significant differences in the hardware performance under severe ionospheric storms. Thus, careful hardware selection is needed to assure data quality/continuity when observations may be affected by severe ionospheric disturbances, while under calm to minor ionospheric activity level there is no significant difference in performance among the hardware tested here.

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Publication type:
Conference Paper
Publication Subtype:
Conference Paper
The ionospheric impact on GPS performance in southern polar region
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Conference Title:
Institute of Navigation - 19th International Technical Meeting of the Satellite Division, ION GNSS 2006
Conference Location:
Fort Worth, TX
Conference Date:
26 September 2006 through 29 September 2006