Research

Bilateral Research Project

Remote Sensing of the Upper Ionised and Lower Neutral Atmosphere Using Signals from Global Navigation Satellite Systems and Satellite-borne Radio Beacons. 

  • SoE staff and students: 
  • Researchers from Ministry of Defence, NCRST 
  • SANSA researchers 
  • CPUT Staff and students 

Investigating Space Plasma Dynamics over Namibia Using Signals from Global Navigation Satellite Systems like GPS.

Earth’s Ionosphere extends from 50 to 1 200 km above its surface and comprises an electrically-conducting space plasma composed of negatively charged electrons and positively charged ions of varying density. Ionisation results from the upper neutral atmosphere’s dissociation by hard X-ray and Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) solar radiation [1].

 The ionosphere is a dispersive medium, affecting all radio signals propagating through it by delaying the group and advancing the phase with a time increment proportional to the ionospheric Total Electron Content (TEC) and inversely proportional to the square of the carrier frequency. Lower frequency signals are refracted more than higher frequency signals, leading to a slightly longer refracted path length through the ionosphere. 

GNSS receiver systems

http://172.16.40.51/nist/sites/default/files/field/image/gps_antenna_on_campus.jpgBack: F’SATI’s Prof Robert van Zyl; Poly senior lecturer, Smita Francis; Victoria Jason, lab technician in the Poly’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; and SANSA’s Dr Ben Opperman. Front: Poly student, Ruth Shiwambi; Pieter Wasserfall, lecturer in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Poly student, Wamorena Digwa; with the GPS receiver

Academics and researchers from South Africa and the Poly have installed a GPS antenna at the institution to allow the transmission of data that will be used in a collaborative research project that investigates the different levels of the Earth’s atmosphere.

The “Remote Sensing of the Upper Ionised and Lower Neutral Atmosphere Using Signals from Global Navigation Satellite Systems and Satellite-borne Radio Beacons” Project is a collaborative research effort between the South African National Space Agency (SANSA), the French South African Institute of Technology (F’SATI) – based at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, and the Poly’s School of Engineering. The initiative is funded by the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology under the Namibia/South Africa Joint Collaboration Research Programme.

The Global Positioning System (GPS) dual-frequency receiver was installed at the Poly’s Engineering building by Poly student researchers under the guidance of a joint Poly, SANSA and F’SATI research team. The GPS antenna will be used to obtain high resolution two- and three-dimensional images of the upper atmosphere, as well as images relating to water vapour content of the lower atmosphere.

Smita Francis, senior lecturer in the School of Engineering, said the research team intends to install two more GPS antenna and receiver stations in Namibia. “Our aim is to supplement the existing stations at Tsumeb and Keetmanshoop in an effort to acquire content images from the lower atmosphere for the entire country,” she said.