Observations and analysis of phase scintillation of spacecraft signal on the interplanetary plasma

G. Molera Calvés, S.V. Pogrebenko, G. Cimò, D.A. Duev, T.M. Bocanegra-Bahamón, J. F. Wagner, J. Kallunki, P. de Vicente, G. Kronschnabl, R. Haas, J. Quick, G. Maccaferri, G. Colucci, Weihua Wang, W.J. Yang, L.F. Hao

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Aims: The phase scintillation of the European Space Agency's Venus Express (VEX) spacecraft telemetry signal was observed at X-band (λ = 3.6 cm) with a number of radio telescopes of the European Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) Network in the period 2009-2013. Methods: We found a phase fluctuation spectrum along the Venus orbit with a nearly constant spectral index of -2.42 ± 0.25 over the full range of solar elongation angles from 0° to 45°, which is consistent with Kolmogorov turbulence. Radio astronomical observations of spacecraft signals within the solar system give a unique opportunity to study the temporal behaviour of the signal's phase fluctuations caused by its propagation through the interplanetary plasma and the Earth's ionosphere. This gives complementary data to the classical interplanetary scintillation (IPS) study based on observations of the flux variability of distant natural radio sources. Results: We present here our technique and the results on IPS. We compare these with the total electron content for the line of sight through the solar wind. Finally, we evaluate the applicability of the presented technique to phase-referencing VLBI and Doppler observations of currently operational and prospective space missions.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 2014
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • astrometry
  • interplanetary medium
  • plasmas
  • scattering
  • Sun: heliosphere
  • techniques: interferometric


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