GNSS scintillation: detection, forecasting and mitigation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bath
Department Name: Electronic and Electrical Engineering


Although GNSS systems now underpin a significant part of modern infrastructure, such as financial markets, telecoms, power generation and distribution as well as transport and emergency services, they suffer from a number of known vulnerabilities. One such shortcoming relates to an ionospheric disturbance known as scintillation. The phenomenon of scintillation is familiar to most people through the twinkling of star light as it crosses the atmosphere. Ionospheric scintillation causes amplitude and phase variations on signals from GNSS satellites when they cross the ionised upper atmosphere (the ionosphere). Currently, GNSS receivers are not robust against radio scintillation; effects range from degradation of positioning accuracy to the complete loss of signal tracking. During scintillation events, required levels of accuracy and continuity, as well as availability, may not be met, thus compromising commercial operations, such as maritime navigation, geophysical exploration and airplane navigation during airport precision approach. The project will quantify the problem of ionospheric scintillation over the forthcoming solar maximum (2010-2013) and develop algorithms to reduce the impact on the users. The research will lead to improved GNSS receiver design that will enable robust performance of receivers that are compromised by effects of the natural environment through ionospheric scintillation.


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Hobbs S (2014) System Design for Geosynchronous Synthetic Aperture Radar Missions in IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing

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Pinto Jayawardena T (2016) Imaging the topside ionosphere and plasmasphere with ionospheric tomography using COSMIC GPS TEC in Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics

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Yin P (2017) A multiresolution inversion for imaging the ionosphere in Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics

Description Mechanisms of scintillation and statistical result that are of importance for the safe use of satellite navigation
Exploitation Route They are being used for testing satnavs
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine

Description Technology transfer to companies. Production of a scintillation module in a company project
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics
Impact Types Economic

Description SEIGG
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Impact Protection from Space Weather
Description Spirent UK 
Organisation Spirent Communications plc
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Ionospheric simulations for GNSS
Collaborator Contribution Hardware simulator loan
Impact Software modules
Start Year 2011