Two-dimensional mapping of the plasma density in the upper atmosphere with computerized ionospheric tomography (CIT)

Paul A. Bernhardt*, R. P. McCoy, K. F. Dymond, J. M. Picone, R. R. Meier, F. Kamalabadi, D. M. Cotton, S. Charkrabarti, T. A. Cook, J. S. Vickers, A. W. Stephan, L. Kersley, S. E. Pryse, I. K. Walker, C. N. Mitchell, P. R. Straus, Helen Na, C. Biswas, G. S. Bust, G. R. KronschnablT. D. Raymund

*Corresponding author for this work

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51 Citations (SciVal)


Tomographic imaging of the ionosphere is a recently developed technique that uses integrated measurements and computer reconstructions to determine electron densities. The integral of electron density along vertical or oblique paths is obtained with radio transmissions from low-earth-orbiting (LEO) satellite transmitters to a chain of receivers on the earth's surface. Similar measurements along horizontal paths can be made using transmissions from Global Position System (GPS) navigation satellites to GPS receivers on LEO spacecraft. Also, the intensities of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) emissions can be measured with orbiting spectrometers. These intensities are directly related to the integral of the oxygen ion and electron densities along the instrument line of sight. Two-dimensional maps of the ionospheric plasma are produced by analyzing the combined radio and EUV data using computerized ionospheric tomography (CIT). Difficulties associated with CIT arise from the nonuniqueness of the reconstructions, owing to limited angle measurements or nonoptimal receiver location. Improvements in both reconstruction algorithms and CIT measurement systems are being implemented to overcome these difficulties. New imaging systems being developed employ CIT for large area mapping of the plasma densities in the ionosphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2010-2021
Number of pages12
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Issue number5 PART 1
Publication statusPublished - May 1998


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