Earth’s upper atmosphere consists of various elements in a seemingly chaotic environment with regions ranging from cool to high temperatures, acting with electrical currents, transports and collisions and creating solar wind power.
You can see why complete knowledge of it is lacking.
This is why Dr. Jayachandran, physics professor at University of New Brunswick, wants to expand the system in place now, studying existing gaps in GPS coverage of Canada’s auroral regions. With increasing amounts of northern routes for commercial airlines, it’s important to understand what exactly is going on up there. Airlines’ communication effectiveness relies on this knowledge.
Since he started his PhD, Jayachandran has gained over 20 years of experience in space research. He’s co-investigator of two satellite missions: Enhanced Polar Outflow Probe (e-POP), which collects information on space storms and other phenomenons that affect things like GPS and radio; and SWARM, a space mission that studies Earth’s magnetic field. Through the Canadian Space Agency, he is a member of both missions.
Motivated by the previously successful Canadian High Arctic Ionospheric Network (CHAIN), ECHAIN aims at adding nine GPS receivers to the auroral regions and six to the polar cap, adding a total of 25 GPS receivers and six radars. The project will help gather more information previously inaccessible because of a lack in spatial coverage. It will cover most of Canadian sector of the polar cap and auroral region.
Science hasn’t reached its potential in terms of data collection, says Jayachandran, and because Canada has a unique opportunity as one of few countries conveniently accessible to the polar cap to do this, he’s taking up the challenge.
Ionospheric conditions affect GPS, and more ionospheric data can also improve navigation and earth mapping by predicting its effect. The results of this project can improve effects on Global Navigation Satellite Systems. A broad objective of the project is energy and mass transport across the polar cap.