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Keywords:

  • GPS interference (civil);
  • quasiperiodic scintillation;
  • power fluctuation

[1] Spectrograms of high-rate Global Positioning System (GPS) power data at the L1 frequency (1.57542 GHz) commonly show patterns of fluctuation frequency with respect to time that resemble quasiperiodic scintillation observations. These fluctuation patterns have probably not been noted in the past because of the low sampling frequencies and coarse quantization of power measurements in most GPS receivers. We demonstrate that the source of these fluctuations is usually not edge-type diffraction from steep ionospheric gradients, as is often hypothesized for quasiperiodic scintillation, despite some features consistent with ionospheric generation. Instead, in most cases these spectrogram patterns derive from intersatellite signal interference between pairs of coarse/acquisition (C/A) codes broadcast on L1. As evidence of this mechanism, we show that most spectrogram features appear on pairs of satellite tracking channels and that the patterns can be reproduced using a multisatellite GPS simulator. We also model the spectrogram patterns, both with regard to the basic GPS C/A code correlation process and the differential Doppler shift conditions that cause the fluctuations. In this latter respect, the GPS quasiperiodic scintillation observations bear resemblance to a mechanism discussed by L. A. Hajkowicz for traditional satellite beacons. Despite the complex nature of the intersatellite interference phenomenon, we can model when the spectrogram patterns are expected to appear. Thus one can screen out these time-varying interference patterns to find potential occurrences of actual ionospheric edge diffraction in spectrograms. The intersatellite interference phenomenon is also of general interest to GPS radio engineering.