Scope of research

Ionosphere and Space Weather

The ionosphere is a part of the upper atmosphere, between 50 km and 1000 km height, where the concentration of free electrons is sufficient to influence the propagation of radio waves. The study of all natural and artificial phenomena occurring in the ionosphere is the subject of the research within the RMI section “Ionospheric Profiles”. The team of this section was and is still involved in various national and international research projects which are mainly financed by ESA (European Space Agency), GSA (GNSS Supervising Authority) and by the Belgian Federal Science Policy.

As part of its scientific research activities the team is responsible for various measuring instruments which are installed in the Geophysical Center in Dourbes:

  • a ionosonde, more specific a Digisonde-4D, for measuring the main parameters that characterize the activity of the ionosphere
  • a neutron monitor for measuring the cosmic radiation
  • GPS receivers for measuring the ionospheric electron content and scintillations
Ionogram of the Digisonde-4D

Ionogram of the Digisonde-4D

The ionosphere plays a very important role in the propagation of electromagnetic waves in the radio spectrum. Our modern society is increasingly using technologies that are based on the transmission and receiving of radio waves: telecommunications on Earth or between the Earth and space, radar systems, systems for satellite navigation such as GPS or GALILEO. Under certain conditions, the ionosphere can seriously disturb the functioning of such systems. It is therefore important to monitor and model the ionospheric activity and its effects.