Analysis of Ionospheric Scintillations using Wideband GPS L1 C/A Signal Data
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A non-real-time GPS receiver has been developed and tested for use in scintillation analysis. The receiver consists of a digital storage receiver and non-real-time software acquisition and tracking algorithms. The goal of this work is to shed light on the behavior of strongly scintillating signals: signals which cause conventional GPS receivers to lose carrier lock. The receiver collects wideband GPS L1 digital data sampled at 5.7 MHz using an RF front-end and stores it on disk for post-processing. It processes the data off-line to determine carrier signal amplitude and phase variations during scintillations. The main processing algorithms are traditional code delay and carrier frequency acquisition algorithms and special signal processing algorithms that effectively function as a delay-locked loop and phase-locked loop. The tracking algorithms use non-causal smoothing techniques in order to optimally reconstruct the phase and amplitude variations of a scintillating signal. These techniques are robust against the deep power fades and strong phase fluctuations characteristic of scintillating signals. To test the receiver, scintillation data were collected in Cauchoeira Paulista, Brazil, from December 4 to 6, 2003. The data set spans several hours and includes times when one or more satellite signals are scintillating. The smoothing algorithm has been used to determine the carrier amplitude and phase time histories of the scintillating signals along with the distortion of the pseudorandom noise (PRN) code’s autocorrelation function. These quantities provide a characterization of scintillation that can be used to study the physics of scintillations or to provide off-line test cases to evaluate a tracking algorithm’s ability to maintain signal lock during scintillations.