Tropospheric delay statistics measured by two site test interferometers at Goldstone, California

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Abstract

[1] Site test interferometers (STIs) have been deployed at two locations within the NASA Deep Space Network tracking complex in Goldstone, California. An STI measures the difference of atmospheric delay fluctuations over a distance comparable to the separations of microwave antennas that could be combined as phased arrays for communication and navigation. The purpose of the Goldstone STIs is to assess the suitability of Goldstone as an uplink array site and to statistically characterize atmosphere-induced phase delay fluctuations for application to future arrays. Each instrument consists of two ~1 m diameter antennas and associated electronics separated by ~200 m. The antennas continuously observe signals emitted by geostationary satellites and produce measurements of the phase difference between the received signals. The two locations at Goldstone are separated by 12.5 km and differ in elevation by 119 m. We find that their delay fluctuations are statistically similar but do not appear as shifted versions of each other, suggesting that the length scale for evolution of the turbulence pattern is shorter than the separation between instruments. We also find that the fluctuations are slightly weaker at the higher altitude site.

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