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Authors: Linty, Nicola* 
Dovis, Fabio* 
Alfonsi, Lucilla* 
Title: Software-defined radio technology for GNSS scintillation analysis: bring Antarctica to the lab
Journal: GPS Solutions 
Series/Report no.: /22 (2018)
Issue Date: Jul-2018
DOI: 10.1007/s10291-018-0761-7
Abstract: Global navigation satellite systems (GNSSs) are widely used to support logistics, scientific operations, and to monitor the polar ionosphere indirectly, which is a region characterized by strong phase scintillation events that severely affect the quality and reliability of received signals. Professional commercial GNSS receivers are widely used for scintillation monitoring; on the contrary, custom-designed solutions based on data grabbers and software receivers constitute novelty. The latter enables a higher level of flexibility and configurability, which is important when working in remote and severe environments. We describe the scientific, technological, and logistical challenges of installing an ionospheric monitoring station in Antarctica, based on a multi-constellation and multi-frequency GNSS data grabber and a software-defined radio receiver. Having access to the full receiver chain and to intermediate signal processing stages allows a deep analysis of the impact of scintillation and, in turn, a better understanding of the physical phenomenon. The possibility to process high-resolution raw intermediate frequency samples of the signal enables not only the computation of scintillation indexes with the same quality as professional devices but also the design and test of innovative receiver architectures and algorithms. Furthermore, the record and replay approach offers the possibility to process in the lab the signals captured on site, with high fidelity level. It is like being in Antarctica again, but with an unlimited set of receivers and higher computational, storage, and bandwidth resources. The main advantages and disadvantages of this approach are analyzed. Examples of monitoring results are reported, confirming the monitoring capabilities, showing the good agreement with commercial receiver outputs and confirming the validity of post-processing and re-play operations.
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