Results from the C/NOFS Satellite obtained during the Current Deep Solar Minimum

Results from the C/NOFS Satellite obtained during the Current Deep Solar Minimum 

Basu Sunanda , Basu Santimay 

Boston College, USA

Correspondence to:

Basu Sunanda,
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Key Points:


The multi-instrumented C/NOFS (Communication Navigation Outage Forecasting System) satellite was launched on April 16, 2008 with 13 degree orbital inclination to characterize and forecast outages in transinospheric communication systems in the equatorial region. The satellite launch corresponded to the deepest solar minimum period and its perigee of even 400 km was found to be inadequate at times for the forecast of the ionospheric turbulence and their deleterious effects on trans-ionospheric communication systems. However, the several on-board instrument packages comprised of a planar Langmuir probe, vector electric field instrument, ion velocity monitor, GPS occultation sensor and a multi-frequency radio beacon have provided many new results. Only the neutral wind meter has not been able to operate during this extreme quiet solar condition, but is expected to provide results when the solar flux exceeds 100 units. Observations by various investigators will be presented Measurements using the ion velocity meter reported that the altitude extent of the ionosphere is significantly smaller than the present reference models would predict for these levels of solar activity. Moreover they found the transition height between O+  and H+  to reside near 450 km at night and at that time, this unusually contracted ionospheric shell around the equator had a temperature of only 600 K. Ion density data observed with the Planar Langmuir Probe (PLP) also yielded new findings, such as deep plasma depletions at sunrise and broad plasma decreases at nighttime. As far as plasma bubbles are concerned, several groups have analyzed the high resolution data of PLP plasma density and obtained spectral characteristics from 10km to 100 m. They suggested the possibility of two-slope spectra with a break at 70m scale length, which may be related to the long-lasting solar minimum condition. We have utilized the PLP data in conjunction with several ground-based instruments in the Jicamarca sector and have found great changes in the low-latitude electrodynamics from day-to-day. The interpretations of our C/NOFS ionospheric irregularity observations were greatly facilitated by the TEC data from the Low Latitude Ionospheric Sensor Network (LISN) and the incoherent scatter radar and Digisonde at Jicamarca.   

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