A comparison of mapped and measured total ionospheric electron content using global positioning system and beacon satellite observations


  • Gabor E. Lanyi,

  • Titus Roth


Total ionospheric electron contents (TEC) were measured by global positioning system (GPS) dual-frequency receivers developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The measurements included P-code (precise ranging code) and carrier phase data for six GPS satellites during multiple 5-hour observing sessions. A set of these GPS TEC measurements were mapped from the GPS lines of sight to the line of sight of a Faraday beacon satellite by statistically fitting the TEC data to a simple model of the ionosphere. The mapped GPS TEC values were compared with the Faraday rotation measurements. Because GPS transmitter offsets are different for each satellite and because some GPS receiver offsets were uncalibrated, the sums of the satellite and receiver offsets were estimated simultaneously with the TEC in a least squares procedure. The accuracy of this estimation procedure is evaluated, indicating that the error of the GPS-determined line of sight TEC can be at or below 1×1016 el/m2. Consequently, the current level of accuracy is comparable to the Faraday rotation technique; however, GPS provides superior sky coverage.