TSU scientists have developed a new method of sensing the ionosphere
19.12.2016

TSU radiophysicists have developed new high-accuracy methods for diagnostics of the ionosphere. This region of the atmosphere acts as a shield against cosmic ionizing radiation, in large part coming from the sun, and plays an important role in solving the problem of solar-terrestrial relations. The state of the ionosphere directly affects the quality of radio communication, which is important for the defense industry and navigation of ships and aircraft. Digital ionosonde created by TSU radiophysicists scans the ionosphere hundreds of times faster and up to a thousand times more accurately than its counterparts.

- We were able to expand the technical capabilities of the installation due to new software systems, - said Sergey Kolesnik, head of the Department of Space Physics and Ecology of the Faculty of Radiophysics. - All ionosondes operating in the world today have working methods built into the hardware that significantly limit their possibilities. In our case, there is no need to create new hardware, it is enough to replace the programme to extend the functionality of ionosonde.

Moreover, the new sensing method accurately locates (within 6 meters) a perturbed region and determines the nature of small-scale irregularities, which has great importance for the defense industry. If the source of interference is artificial (for example, powerful directional radio waves), it could mean that the enemy is creating deliberate noise pollution of radio links.

To scan the ionosphere, radiophysicists use combinations of modulations in the sounding signal (the set of the phase, amplitude, and frequency), which improves the efficiency. Short sounding allows accurately assessing ultrafast processes in plasma and significantly improves the electromagnetic compatibility of the installation with other radio devices. This means that ionosonde does not adversely affect the operation of devices that are close to it.

Special attention has recently been paid to climate change. Long-term observation of space weather in the upper atmosphere helps to understand the processes occurring on earth, in particular, the connection between the change of some climatic parameters and solar activity, which is seen well by the ionosonde.

For estimating tendency of parameters of the ionosphere in different parts of the world, scientists are using data from the National Climatic Data Center (NOAA, USA), which contains information from the majority of ionospheric stations in the world since 1947. TSU’s ionospheric station was launched in 1936 and has the longest series of similar observations, which increases the value of such assessments by almost 15%.