• NET-TIDE (Pilot Network for Identification of Travelling Ionospheric Disturbances in Europe), Contract Ref. NATO-SPS-984894

A new international project - Pilot Network for Identification of Travelling Ionospheric Disturbances in Europe (NET-TIDE), with RMI ionospheric research team participation and NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme funding, commenced in November 2014 (NATO HQ News). The objective is to develop a prototype system that provides in real-time an assimilative electron density model of the ionosphere with the required sensitivity to identify and track Travelling Ionospheric Disturbances (TIDs). The system will make use of the existing network of DPS-4D digital ionospheric sounders in Europe which will be trained to diagnose the TIDs applying the Frequency and Angular Sounding (FAS) technique. The FAS technique is based on measuring the variations of the angles-of-arrival and Doppler frequencies of ionospherically-reflected HF radio signals. It offers a possibility of using transmissions from broadcasting stations as probing signals, leading to reduced overall system costs by using a single receiving site to monitor several transmitters making measurements over a large area. The project aims at testing and implementing for the first time a novel experimental technique for identification and tracking TIDs over a specific region, such as Europe, using high precision ionospheric DPS-4D sounders operated by the participating nations. The performance of this technique is expected to be much more reliable than other (indirect) methods since it is based on direct observations, which is one of the novel aspects of the project. This will lead to the development of a robust, effective, and inexpensive system for remote detection and diagnostics of this type of ionospheric irregularities that can provide information and warnings directly exploitable by the users in support of their developments of mitigation techniques.

  • STCE (Solar Terrestrial Centre of Excellence)

The Solar Terrestrial Centre of Excellence (STCE) is a project of the Belgian government aiming at the creation and continual support of a centre of international experts in the field of space, solar, and geophysical sciences. The STCE main objective is the integration of the expertise in these sciences of the 3 leading Belgian institutes (ROB, RMI, BISA) and further consolidation of this expertise via active international cooperation. Another key objective is the valorization of the products and services that are being developed in the frame of the STCE.

The Ionosphere and Space Weather (ISW) Section of the Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI) participates in the STCE project with work package RMI-C "Ionospheric Activity and Effects":
- RMI-C1: Monitoring, modelling, and forecasting the ionospheric activity
- RMI-C2: Ionospheric effects on radiowave propagation, communications and GNSS-based applications

  • SWANS (Space Weather and Navigation Systems)

The modern-day society relies heavily on operational technological systems using radio waves: ground-to-ground and ground-to-satellite telecommunications, radars, Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) such as GPS or GALILEO. Space Weather phenomena are often the origin of disturbed ionospheric conditions which can strongly affect the performances of technological systems based on radio waves. Therefore, it is indispensable to monitor, model and forecast the ionospheric activity and its effects on these technological systems. In 2008, the Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI) launched the project Space Weather And Navigation Systems (SWANS).

The project is primarily concerned with monitoring and research of space weather phenomena and their effects on GNSS-based applications:
- Research on ionospheric plasma structure and dynamics, with emphasis on ionospheric disturbances and effects on Comm/Nav systems
- Development of services to help GNSS users in mitigating the ionospheric effects on GNSS-based applications

  • SIDC-Telescience (Ionospheric Tomography over Belgium Based on Combined GNSS and Ionosonde Measurements)

Ionospheric tomography is carried out for a 3D reconstruction of the ionospheric plasma density over Belgium based on combined GNSS and ionosonde data. The ultimate goal is to improve the dual-frequency GNSS-TEC calculation technique by refining the computation of hardware biases.

  • GALOCAD (GALILEO Local Component for nowcasting and forecasting of Atmospheric Disturbances), Contract Ref. GJU/06/2423/CTR/GALOCAD

Atmospheric effects on GNSS signal propagation remains an important error source for GNSS applications. In particular, high-accuracy real-time positioning is affected by small-scale irregular structures in the ionospheric plasma or in the neutral atmosphere water vapour. For example, the occurrence of local irregular structures in the atmosphere due to disturbed space weather conditions induce ‘out of tolerance’ errors which is a major concern for Galileo services offering certified accuracy levels to their customers.

The main objectives of GALOCAD are:
- Research on the effects of atmospheric/ionospheric disturbances on the integrity of high-precision GALILEO applications and development of services that can help mitigating such effects.
- Develop a prototype GALILEO local component (over Belgium) which will assess in real time and forecast a few hours in advance, the effects of the atmosphere on GALILEO high accuracy positioning. In other words, this local component will provide tools for GALILEO integrity monitoring with respect to ‘atmospheric threats’ which should lead to improved GALILEO products reliability.