Impact of Ionospheric Scintillation on Spaceborne SAR Observations Studied Using GNSS

Impact of Ionospheric Scintillation on Spaceborne SAR Observations Studied Using GNSS  

Xiaoqing Pi1, Franz J. Meyer2, Kancham Chotoo3, Anthony Freeman1,Ronald G. Caton4, and Christopher T. Bridgwood5 

1Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA. 2Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska –Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK. 3User Systems, Inc., Crofton, MD. 4Space Vehicles Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, Kirtland AFB, NM. 5Boston College, Boston, MA 

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A survey of artifacts seen in JAXA’s Phase Array type Lband synthetic aperture radar (PALSAR) data over South America during a low solar activity year is reported in this paper. A significant impact on the radar data is revealed: about 14% of the surveyed PALSAR images (totally 2779) are affected by the artifacts during a month and the artifacts occur on 74.2% of the surveyed days. The characteristics of the artifacts have led to a consideration that the artifacts are the effects of ionospheric scintillation. This raises not only a concern about scintillation effects on radar but also a question about active scintillation conditions during a low solar activity year. To assess and verify the scintillation conditions, GPS data collected from the constellation of FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC satellites and three groundbased GPS networks are processed and analyzed. The GPS data provides a global context and regional dense coverage, respectively, of ionospheric irregularity and scintillation measurements. It is concluded that even during a low solar activity year, L-band scintillation at low latitudes can occur frequently and affect L-band SAR significantly.  

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