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Authors: Alfonsi, Lucilla* 
Povero, Gabriella* 
Spogli, Luca* 
Cesaroni, Claudio* 
Forte, Biagio* 
Mitchell, Cathryn N.* 
Burston, Robert* 
Veettil, Sreeja Vadakke* 
Aquino, Marcio* 
Klausner, Virginia* 
Muella, Marcio* 
Pezzopane, Michael* 
Giuntini, Alessandra* 
De Franceschi, Giorgiana* 
Musicò, Elvira* 
Pini, Marco* 
La The, Vinh* 
Trung, Hieu Tran* 
Husin, Asnawi* 
Ekawati, Sri* 
de la Cruz-Cayapan, Charisma Victoria* 
Abdullah, Mardina* 
Mat Daud, Noridawaty* 
Le Huy, Minh* 
Floury, Nicolas* 
Title: Analysis of the Regional Ionosphere at Low Latitudes in Support of the Biomass ESA Mission
Issue Date: Nov-2018
Series/Report no.: 11/56(2018)
DOI: 10.1109/TGRS.2018.2838321
Subject Classification01.02. Ionosphere 
Abstract: Biomass is a spaceborn polarimetric P-band (435 MHz) synthetic aperture radar (SAR) in a dawn–dusk low Earth orbit. Its principal objective is to measure biomass content and change in all the Earth’s forests. The ionosphere introduces the Faraday rotation on every pulse emitted by low-frequency SAR and scintillations when the pulse traverses a region of plasma irregularities, consequently impacting the quality of the imaging. Some of these effects are due to total electron content (TEC) and its gradients along the propagation path. Therefore, an accurate assessment of the ionospheric morphology and dynamics is necessary to properly understand the impact on image quality, especially in the equatorial and tropical regions. To this scope, we have conducted an in-depth investigation of the significant noise budget introduced by the two crests of the equatorial ionospheric anomaly (EIA) over Brazil and Southeast Asia. This paper is characterized by a novel approach to conceive a SAR-oriented ionospheric assessment, aimed at detecting and identifying spatial and temporal TEC gradients, including scintillation effects and traveling ionospheric disturbances, by means of Global Navigation Satellite Systems ground-based monitoring stations. The novelty of this approach resides in the customization of the information about the impact of the ionosphere on SAR imaging as derived by local dense networks of ground instruments operating during the passes of Biomass spacecraft. The results identify the EIA crests as the regions hosting the bulk of irregularities potentially causing degradation on SAR imaging. Interesting insights about the local characteristics of low-latitudes ionosphere are also highlighted.
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