Articles | Volume 8, issue 8
Research article
03 Aug 2015
Research article |  | 03 Aug 2015

Electron density profiles probed by radio occultation of FORMOSAT-7/COSMIC-2 at 520 and 800 km altitude

J. Y. Liu, C. Y. Lin, and H. F. Tsai

Abstract. The FORMOSAT-7/COSMIC-2 (F7/C2) will ultimately place 12 satellites in orbit with two launches with 24–28.5° inclination and 520–550 km altitude in 2016 and with 72° inclination and 720–750 km altitude in 2018. It would be very useful for the community to construct the global three-dimensional electron density structure by simultaneously combining the two launch observations for studying ionospheric structure and dynamics. However, to properly construct the global electron density structure, it is essential to know and evaluate differences between the ionospheric electron densities probed by the two launches. To mimic the F7/C2 observations, we examine the electron density probed at the two satellite altitudes 500 and 800 km by means of FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC (F3/C) observations at the parking orbit 500 km altitude and mission orbit 800 km altitude, as well as a corresponding observing system simulation experiment (OSSE). Observation and OSSE results show that the sounding geometries by satellite orbiting at 500 and 800 km altitudes can cause the overall differences in the electron density, the F2 peak electron density, and the F2 peak height of about 18–24, 12–28 %, and 7–19 km, respectively. Results confirm that the discrepancies mainly result from the sounding geometry and the grid (contour) bias of the electron density.