National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Living With A Star

Targeted Research and Technology

GPS Occultation Sensor Contributions to Ionospheric Space Weather Specification and Prediction

ROSES ID: NRA-02-OSS-01      Selection Year: 2003      

Program Element: Independent Investigation: LWS

Principal Investigator: Paul Straus

Affiliation(s): Aerospace Corporation

Project Member(s):
Crowley, Geoffrey COI Southwest Research Institute
Lorentzen, Kirsten R. COI Aerospace Corporation
Anderson, Phillip C COI The Aerospace Corporation
Sauve, Vera Sue Authorizing Official The Aerospace Corporation
Schunk, Robert W. Collaborator Utah State University
Hajj, George A Collaborator Jet Propulsion Laboratory


Through analysis of data from a new type of space-based ionospheric sensor, this proposal seeks to address aspects of three Space Weather effects that can potentially impact society. First, we will characterize the global morphology, strength and occurrence of small ionospheric irregularities capable of distorting electromagnetic signals. Second, we will validate key aspects of first-principles models projections of ionospheric daily and storm-time. Both ionospheric irregularities and variability can impact communications and navigation (e.g., GPS) systems. Finally, we will develop a method to improve specification of highly energetic particles in the Earth s radiation belts that can be responsible for damage to satellite components. Attainment of these goals is made possible by the advent of the GPS occultation sensor, which is capable of measuring electron densities over the full range of ionospheric altitudes from the D-region (60-90 km), through the E-region (90-150 km), and up to the F-region (150-800 km). Over the last few years several GPS occultation sensors have been flown, generally with the primary objective of making lower atmospheric observations. However, some ionospheric observations have been made as well. The launch of the Ionospheric Occultation Experiment (IOX) in late 2001 marked the first flight of an occultation mission focused on ionospheric remote sensing. The proposed study will utilize IOX and other occultation sensor observations of D-, E-, and F-region densities and density fluctuations to address the above three objectives through statistical evaluations and model/data comparisons. Ancillary data from NASA s TIMED and SAMPEX satellites will also be used. Successful completion of the proposed work will enable development of better environmental models, improve understanding of Space Weather phenomena, and validate the utility of GPS occultation sensors as a part of future LWS space missions.


Performance YearReferenceInvestigation TypeActions
1Straus, Paul Aerospace Corporation - GPS Occultation Sensor ...
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1Anderson, P. C.; Straus, P. R.; (2005), Magnetic field ...
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