Vlbionos — Probing the Ionosphere by Means of Very Long Baseline Interferometry
In geodetic Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) the observations are performed at two distinct frequencies (2.3 and 8.4 GHz) in order to determine ionospheric delay corrections. This allows information to be obtained from the VLBI observables about the sum of electrons (total electron content — TEC) along the ray path through the ionosphere. Due to the fact that VLBI is a differential technique, only the differences in the behavior of the propagation media over the stations determine the values of the observed ionospheric delays. However, in a first simple approach, an instrumental delay offset per baseline shifts the TEC measurements by a constant value. This offset is independent of the azimuth and elevation of the observed radio source what allows separation of the ionospheric parameters for each station from the instrumental delay offsets per baseline in a least-squares adjustment. In first tests of this method Fourier coefficients up to the 4th order plus a constant value and a linear trend were estimated to represent the vertical TEC (VTEC). Slant TEC (STEC) values are converted into VTEC values by a mapping function. A disadvantage of this approach is the assumption that these values are assigned to the station coordinates but not to the geographical coordinates of the intersection point of the ray path and the infinitely thin ionospheric layer. The precision of the estimated values is about ±5 to ±7 TEC units (TECU). The results obtained from VLBI agree with a standard deviation of ±10 TECU with other techniques like GPS, and the differences rarely exceed 20 TECU. A second approach, developed at the TU Vienna, using piecewise linear functions (VTM — Vienna TEC model) is also tested.
KeywordsVLBI ionosphere GPS TEC
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