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Keywords:

  • ionospheric tomography;
  • band-limited reconstruction;
  • block iterative algorithms

[1] The problem of reconstructing ionospheric electron density from ground-based receiver to satellite total electron content (TEC) measurements is formulated as an underdetermined discrete linear inverse problem. If receivers and satellite orbit are coplanar, then a single two-dimensional (2-D) imaging plane can be used as a geometrical model. In most cases, receiver locations are determined by convenience and availability of sites, and thus a 3-D imaging volume is required in order to capture the part of the electron density solution that is associated with gaps between receiver stations within a chain. It is well understood that spurious features, or “wings,” associated with these gaps can be produced in tomographic image reconstructions where ray path coverage from individual stations is lost or minimal. In this paper, a 3-D reconstruction system that takes advantage of a multiple-chain data acquisition geometry and provides a solution consistent with available TEC data everywhere within a receiver chain is presented. The reconstruction system exploits the fact that gaps, created by longitudinally unaligned receivers within a chain, can be captured as additional planes of constant longitudes within the 3-D imaging volume. With parameterized ionospheric model (PIM)–generated data as a nonnegative prior estimate of the electron density, the reconstruction algorithm uses constraints based on prior knowledge of the 3-D spatial Fourier transform of the prior electron density as a smoothing mechanism in the tomographic reconstruction process. Consequent to the underlined Fourier transform formulation, a unique solution is produced at locations that contributed to the measured TEC data, and a solution is interpolated within the remainder of the imaging volume. The band-limited BISMART algorithm has been evaluated using a multiple-receiver chain TEC data acquisition system, under known ionospheric conditions. The algorithm satisfactorily reconstructs density solutions, consistent with small-scale enhancements, irregularities, and troughs in the auroral ionosphere, from the available TEC data. The quality of the density reconstructions, coupled with the computational efficiency of this algorithm, indicates the potential utility of this technique for real-time three- and four-dimensional ionospheric tomography.