Topside Ionogram Scaler With True Height Algorithm (TOPIST): Automated processing of ISIS topside ionograms



[1] The United States/Canadian ISIS-1 and ISIS-2 satellites collected several million topside ionograms in the 1960s and 1970s with a multinational network of ground stations that provided good global coverage. However, processing of these ionograms into electron density profiles required time-consuming manual scaling of the traces from the analog ionograms, and as a result, only a few percent of the ionograms had been processed into electron density profiles. In recent years an effort began to digitize the analog recordings to prepare the ionograms for computerized analysis. As of November 2002, approximately 390,000 ISIS-1 and ISIS-2 digital topside-sounder ionograms have been produced. The Topside Ionogram Scaler With True Height Algorithm (TOPIST) program was developed for the automated scaling of the echo traces and for the inversion of these traces into topside electron density profiles. The program is based on the techniques that have been successfully applied in the analysis of ground-based Digisonde ionograms. The TOPIST software also includes an “editing option” for manual scaling of the more difficult ionograms, which could not be scaled during the automated TOPIST run. TOPIST is now successfully scaling ∼60% of the ISIS ionograms, and the electron density profiles are available through the online archive of the National Space Science Data Center at This data restoration effort is producing a unique global database of topside electron densities over more than one solar cycle, which will be of particular importance for improvements of topside ionosphere models, especially the International Reference Ionosphere.