Ionospheric Signatures of the 21 August 2017 Solar Eclipse

Speaker: Anthea Coster, MIT Haystack Observatory

On 21 August 2017, during daytime hours (16:00--20:00 UTC), a total solar eclipse occurred across the continental United States along a path from Oregon to South Carolina with a narrow ~100-km wide umbral shadow. Outside of this region, a partial solar eclipse associated with the penumbra covered the majority of the continental United States. Haystack Observatory, a multidisciplinary radio science research center run by MIT, was one of several institutions funded by NASA Heliophysics to study eclipse induced ionospheric variations.   As part of its many activities, MIT Haystack Observatory coordinated the placement of 7 GNSS receivers in the region of totality at sites in Missouri, South Carolina, Wyoming, Oregon.  These receivers were provided by UNAVCO and MIT and collected total electron content (TEC) data at a 1 to 10 second cadence from all GPS and GLONASS satellites in view.  In addition, MIT utilized the dense global network of GNSS receivers across North and South America to produce both TEC and differential TEC maps.   Five days of GNSS data - the eclipse day, two days prior and two days after - were analyzed for the electron density latitudinal response and for the presence of traveling ionospheric disturbances (TIDs), with the aim of identifying signatures specifically associated with the solar eclipse.  Differential TEC techniques were used for TID detections by subtracting a background TEC.  In addition, TIDs in the region near totality were examined by comparing the individual line of sight TEC from nearby receivers. 


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Wednesday, September 13, 2017 - 1:30pm to 2:30pm