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Nottingham University to tackle atmospheric interference

Together with Brazilian and EU partners, The University of Nottingham is working to solve atmospheric interference problems that hamper GNSS positioning in equatorial countries like Brazil.

The University of Nottingham based in Nottingham (UK), China and Malaysia, says precision agriculture adoption rates in countries on equatorial regions such as Brazil are hindered by specific phenomena in the earth’s upper atmosphere (the ionosphere), known as ‘ionospheric scintillation’.

Together with Brazilian and EU partners, The University of Nottingham is working to solve atmospheric interference problems that hamper GNSS positioning in equatorial countries. Photo: imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock
Together with Brazilian and EU partners, The University of Nottingham is working to solve atmospheric interference problems that hamper GNSS positioning in equatorial countries. Photo: imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock

Ionospheric scintillation affects the integrity, availability and accuracy of satellite positioning. Specifically, it causes interference with the propagation of satellite signals as they pass through the ionosphere, making it difficult for GNSS receivers to lock onto satellites and track their signals. This results in not only large errors but at times to complete service outages.

Typically for equatorial latitudes

“The strong signal fluctuations that characterise ionospheric scintillation are caused by the irregular behaviour of the ionosphere that is typical of the equatorial latitudes, affecting most of the Brazilian territory, hence the importance of the bi-lateral collaboration in the PEARL network,” says Dr Marcio Aquino, the project leader from the Nottingham Geospatial Institute. “The PEARL network, which is funded by the European Commission’s INCOBRA project, aims to tackle this problem head on to ensure high accuracy positioning by satellite is robust and achievable in real time in Brazil.”

Solutions arising from the research will have a positive impact not only in Brazil but in the whole of Latin America and could play a pivotal role in promoting the uptake of satellite-based positioning and the broad acceptance of the new EU system Galileo, paving the way for service implementation in other similarly affected parts of the world, such as southern China, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.

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