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  • Communications Effects of Space Weather
  • Space weather effects on Navigation
  • GPS ranging error and disturbances

GPS ranging error and disturbances

  • Space weather events, such as those described above, can affect the performance of ground and space based technological systems, with effects ranging from minor digital upsets, to severe power grid disruptions that can cause loss of service to millions. For GPS users, the impact of space weather can usually be characterized by disturbances in the ionosphere. The ionosphere is that part of the atmosphere that is ionized by solar radiation. It has practical importance because it influences radio wave propagation between space and earth. The ionosphere over the CONtiguous United States (CONUS) is normally well ordered with slow and predictable changes in the ionosphere. During a geomagnetic storm, however, rapid changes and strong gradients over distance can ultimately degrade GPS ranging measurements. Very severe magnetic storms can also introduce ionospheric scintillation activity in the mid-latitude CONUS region. Scintillation is a rapid variation in the intensity of the satellite signal that can cause a GPS receiver to lose lock on the signal. If many satellite signals are affected by scintillation, it can cause GPS to lose the capability to provide positioning information.

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