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Analysis of the regional ionosphere at low latitudes in support of the Biomass ESA Mission


Lucilla Alfonsi

Gabriella Povero

Luca Spogli

Claudio Cesaroni

Biagio Forte

Cathryn N. Mitchell

Robert Burston

Sreeja Vadakke Veettil

Marcio Aquino

Virginia Klausner

Marcio T. A. H. Muella

Michael Pezzopane

Alessandra Giuntini

Ingrid Hunstad

Giorgiana De Franceschi


Marco Pini

Vinh La The

Hieu Tran Trung

Asnawi Husin

Sri Ekawati

Charisma Victoria de la Cruz-Cayapan

Mardina Abdullah

Noridawaty Mat Daud

Le Huy Minh

Nicolas Floury


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.


Alfonsi, L., Povero, G., Spogli, L., Cesaroni, C., Forte, B., Mitchell, C. N., …Floury, N. (2018). Analysis of the regional ionosphere at low latitudes in support of the Biomass ESA Mission. IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters, 56(11), 6412 - 6424.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 22, 2018
Online Publication Date Jun 21, 2018
Publication Date Nov 1, 2018
Deposit Date Nov 20, 2018
Publicly Available Date Nov 21, 2018
Journal IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters
Print ISSN 1545-598X
Publisher Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 56
Issue 11
Pages 6412 - 6424
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information © 2018 IEEE. Personal use of this material is permitted. Permission from IEEE must be obtained for all other uses, in any current or future media, including reprinting/republishing this material for advertising or promotional purposes, creating new collective works, for resale or redistribution to servers or lists, or reuse of any copyrighted component of this work in other works.


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