GPS Carrier Tracking Loop Performance in the presence of Ionospheric Scintillations
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The performance of several GPS carrier tracking loops is evaluated using wideband GPS data recorded during strong ionospheric scintillations. The aim of this study is to determine the loop structures and parameters that enable good phase tracking during the power fades and phase dynamics induced by scintillations. Constant-bandwidth and variable-bandwidth loops are studied using theoretical models, simulation, and tests with actual GPS signals. Constant-bandwidth loops with loop bandwidths near 15 Hz are shown to lose phase lock during scintillations. Use of the decision-directed discriminator reduces the carrier lock threshold by ∼1 dB relative to the arctangent and conventional Costas discriminators. A proposed variablebandwidth loop based on a Kalman filter reduces the carrier lock threshold by more than 7 dB compared to a 15-Hz constant-bandwidth loop. The Kalman filter-based strategy employs a soft-decision discriminator, explicitly models the effects of receiver clock noise, and optimally adapts the loop bandwidth to the carrier-to-noise ratio. In extensive simulation and in tests using actual wideband GPS data, the Kalman filter PLL demonstrates improved cycle slip immunity relative to constant bandwidth PLLs.