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Title: Topside sounding on a microsatellite
Author: Palmer, David J.
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 1997
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An ionospheric topside sounder is a high frequency radar system that is located above the ionosphere, ideally on-board a polar orbiting satellite to provide global coverage. The previous eight satellite sounders have measured the critical frequency of the F2 ionosphere region using traditional swept frequency methods. The most expensive part of these missions however is considered to be the large network of ground support stations required for collecting and processing data. This information has been invaluable in improving our global understanding of the upper ionosphere and the accuracy of critical frequency maps used by HF radio engineers to calculate communications routes and the optimum frequencies for early warning OTH radars. A new technique for the direct detection of critical frequency has been developed, which is called the 'Dispersion Method'. Real data from previous sounders is used in the development and verification of this method. This sounder will not only provide traditional lonograms but detects critical frequency and spread echoes directly from the dispersion of a returning radar pulse. This new method does not use traditional lonograms with their inherent processing complexity and is an order faster than any previous sounder. The 'Dispersion Method' therefore resolves the problems encountered with the past topside sounder missions and produces large quantities of real time data autonomously when required. Previous sounding satellites had little memory capacity, no on-board processing capability, required large antennas and transmitters on satellites with a mass of between 150 and 250 kg. This meant power requirements of about 60 watts per orbit average. A feasibility study to place a third generation topside sounder into low Earth orbit on a 50 kg microsatellite with an orbit average power capacity of only 20 watts has been successfully completed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: High frequency radar system; Upper ionosphere