IEEE Santa Clara Valley Antennas & Propagation Society meeting

Santa Clara, CA

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Event Details

Beacon Satellite Scintillation from Sputnik to Cubesat

by Dr. Charles Rino, Visiting Scholar Boston College Institute for Scientific Research

Social time with food and beverages provided at 6:30 PM and the presentation at 7:00 PM


Starlight scintillation has been observed for as long as humans pondered the nighttime sky. Like its invisible radio and acoustic counterparts scintillation is a nuisance and a scientific curiosity that can be exploited for remote sensing of propagation media. Since the launch of Sputnik, artificial earth satellites have provided multiple frequency radio sources that propagate through the earth’s ionosphere and atmosphere. Because these radio transmissions carry critical information the potential degradation imposed by scintillation is a serious problem. On the other hand, the same radio transmissions have provided a means of measuring the near-earth environment. For example, the refraction of radio transmissions during an occultation can be used to measure the atmospheric refractivity profile and extract its vapor content, with is critical to global weather forecasting.

This talk will trace the history of beacon satellite scintillation from its inception with the launch of Sputnik to modern times. Our ability to exploit propagation phenomena has progressed apace with the development of modern computation resources. The scintillation phenomenon as it affects system performance is well understood. The current challenge is to understand the onset of severe ionospheric disturbances triggered by solar storms. Examples of the extreme disturbance that occur will be presented to illustrate computation capabilities and the challenges that remain.

Speaker Biography

Charles L. Rino received his BS and MS in Electrical Engineering from UC Berkeley and his PhD in information and computer science from UC San Diego. In 1989, he was elected an IEEE Fellow for contributions in wave propagation and ionospheric physics. He is the principal author on over 50 papers on ionospheric physics, radio propagation, and surface scattering. He currently works part time as an engineering consultant and as a docent volunteer at the Computer History Museum.