Radio Science

Autonomous estimation of plasmasphere content using GPS measurements



[1] The plasmasphere (also denoted as the protonosphere) is a large toroidal domain of light ionized particles situated above the ionosphere and confined by the Earth's magnetic field. While plasmaspheric charge densities are considerably less than those of the ionosphere, the large extent of the plasmasphere can produce significant charge column densities, or total electron content (TEC), for lines-of-sight passing through the plasmasphere. A method for Self-Calibration of Range Errors (SCORE) has been developed previously both to determine combined bias calibration values for GPS receivers and satellites and to calculate absolute TEC values for the ionosphere. An enhanced SCORE process, described here, retains the “self-calibration” feature of the original SCORE process, by not requiring any measurements beyond those performed by the GPS receiver system being calibrated. The enhanced SCORE process also determines a characteristic plasmasphere amplitude parameter, thus providing an autonomous determination of both the ionospheric and plasmaspheric TEC. Case studies for a near-equatorial site are presented, with model parameters derived from 1998 data being applied to determine ionospheric and plasmaspheric TEC for measurements made in 1999.