Electron density retrieval from occulting GNSS signals using a gradient-aided inversion technique
In the coming years, opportunities for remote sensing of electron density in the Earth’s ionosphere will expand with the advent of Galileo, which will become part of the global navigation satellite system (GNSS). Methods for accurate electron density retrieval from radio occultation data continue to improve. We describe a new method of electron density retrieval using total electron content measurements obtained in low Earth orbit. This method can be applied to data from dual-frequency receivers tracking the GPS or Galileo transmitters. This simulation study demonstrates that the method significantly improves retrieval accuracy compared to the standard Abel inversion approach that assumes a spherically symmetric ionosphere. Our method incorporates horizontal gradient information available from global maps of Total Electron Content (TEC), which are available from the International GNSS Service (IGS) on a routine basis. The combination of ground and space measurements allows us to improve the accuracy of electron density profiles near the occultation tangent point in the E and F regions of the ionosphere.