Evaluation of the orbit altitude electron density estimation and its effect on the Abel inversion from radio occultation measurements

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Abstract

[1] In this paper, the observations from CHAMP radio occultation (RO) and Planar Langmuir Probe (PLP) during 2002–2008 and Constellation Observing System for Meteorology Ionosphere and Climate (COSMIC) observations during 2007.090–2007.120 are used to evaluate the orbit altitude electron density estimation and its effect on the Abel inversion from RO measurements. Comparison between PLP observed and RO estimated orbit electron density on board CHAMP shows that RO estimation tends to overestimate the true orbit electron density by 10% averagely. The average relative deviation is ∼20% and decreases slightly with the increase of the ionospheric peak height and the satellite orbit. It is larger at nighttime than daytime and peaks around sunrise time. Simulations based on COSMIC observations using NeQuick model indicate that the solar activity and the satellite orbit altitude variations will not influence the ratio of the successfully retrieved electron density profiles to the observed occultation events and the relative Abel inversion error of the electron density as well. Different orbit electron density derivation methods, including estimation by the RO total electron content, given by an independent on orbit observation, and assumed to be equal to the topmost point, will have no essential influence on the Abel retrieved electron density. Adding an on orbit observation even has a negative effect on the Abel retrieved electron density around the orbit altitude, which is contrary to our imagination.

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