Having ionospheric electron density distributions as a function of height, latitude, longitude, and time under different conditions is essential for scientific, technical, and operational purposes. A satellite-based, swept-frequency, HF sounder can obtain electron density profiles on a global scale. We are developing a new generation HF sounder that employs recent developments in technology, electronics, and processing capabilities. It will provide global-scale electron density distributions, contours of fixed densities, maps of ƒoF2, hmax, etc. It will allow us to map irregularities, estimate anomalous propagation and conditions for ducting, determine angles of arrival, etc. It will also be able to perform various plasma diagnostics and, because of new flexibility, will be programmable from the ground to perform a variety of experiments in space. Need for such a system exists through the Department of Defense and several civilian agencies. Some of the novel features of the system include software-based design, direction of arrival estimation and synthetic aperture radar-type operation, onboard processing, and reconfigurable and flexible architecture with multimission capabilities.
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