Equatorial Ionosphere Characterization for Sub-Saharan Africa SBAS

Etienne Foucault, Pierre-Louis Blelly, Aurélie Marchaudon, Damien Serant, Sébastien Trilles

Abstract: Performance Based Navigation (PBN) is a concept developed by ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) that specifies the operational performance required in an airspace, route or approach procedure. A Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) enhances the performances of the existing satellite navigation system. It is used to deploy Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) approach for PBN procedures. The required performance level for vertical guidance is directly linked to approach category criteria. The real performance provided by an SBAS for a single-frequency user depends on the physical characteristics of the ionospheric layer. As Sub-Saharan Africa corresponds to geomagnetic equator region, the question of ionosphere dynamics characterization in equatorial zone is central to gauge what SBAS performance level can be achievable. In the equatorial zone the dynamics of the ionosphere is subject to complex physical phenomena, involving rapid recombination of ion-electron pairs. Moreover these phenomena are transient with high local spatial and temporal gradients. These zones promote the occurrence of scintillation phenomena, bubbles (strong local fall of TEC (Total Electron Content)), and small scale gradients, which must be evaluated for the ionosphere modeling and integrity data generation. Based on a large volume of GNSS measurements covering more than four years of data collected, Thales Alenia Space associated with IRAP (Astrophysics and Planetology Research Institute, Toulouse, France), present a panorama of observed physical events through the ionosphere in Sub-Saharan Africa zone. The main purpose of this study is to establish a clear view on the physical mechanisms that drive the equatorial ionosphere dynamics and the effects on GNSS measurements. This study is supported by information coming from TEC values, TEC gradients amplitudes, and the nature of scintillation events as intensity, impact area and occurrence in time. Conclusion of these activities is to highlight that ionosphere conditions above sub-Saharan area are consistent with the performances level of SBAS approach with vertical guidance. Indeed scientific analyses show that a precise service level is possible on this zone with a very good level of availability above the main airports.
Published in: Proceedings of the 31st International Technical Meeting of the Satellite Division of The Institute of Navigation (ION GNSS+ 2018)
September 24 - 28, 2018
Hyatt Regency Miami
Miami, Florida
Pages: 2222 - 2240
Cite this article: Foucault, Etienne, Blelly, Pierre-Louis, Marchaudon, Aurélie, Serant, Damien, Trilles, Sébastien, "Equatorial Ionosphere Characterization for Sub-Saharan Africa SBAS," Proceedings of the 31st International Technical Meeting of the Satellite Division of The Institute of Navigation (ION GNSS+ 2018), Miami, Florida, September 2018, pp. 2222-2240.
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