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A method for estimating the spatial coherence of mid-latitude skywave propagation based on transionospheric scintillations at 35 MHz
  • Joseph F Helmboldt
Joseph F Helmboldt
Naval Research Laboratory

Corresponding Author:joe.helmboldt@nrl.navy.mil

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The results of a study aimed at assessing the utility of transionospheric 35 MHz scintillation measurements toward cosmic radio sources for estimating the level of spatial coherence in high frequency (HF) skywave systems are presented. This was done using an array of four antennas in southern Maryland called the Deployable Low-band Ionosphere and Transient Experiment (DLITE). Two of the antennas within a ~350-m north/south baseline were used to monitor 35-MHz intensity variations of two bright cosmic sources, Cynus A and Cassiopeia A. The other two antennas, which were within a ~420-m east/west baseline, recorded the 7.85 MHz skywave from the CHU radio station near Ottawa, Ontario. These HF measurements were used to quantify the level of spatial coherence by measuring the amplitudes of the cross correlation of the two antennas’ recorded voltages relative to the received power, which were typically ~0.5-0.9, but occasionally near zero. A method was developed to estimate the expected cross-correlation amplitude based on the 35-MHz scintillations. This method assumes the case of weak scattering, which is generally appropriate for mid-latitudes, and that the irregularity distribution follows that of the background electron density. These calculations typically captured the day-to-day variations in spatial coherence quite well (correlation coefficient r≈0.6) while only marginally reproducing hour-to-hour variations (r≈0.2). Thus, this method holds promise as an economical and passive means to assess the spatial coherence expected for skywave propagation within a given mid-latitude region.