Effects of the 2017 Solar Eclipse on HF Radio Propagation and the D-Region Ionosphere: Citizen Science Investigation

TitleEffects of the 2017 Solar Eclipse on HF Radio Propagation and the D-Region Ionosphere: Citizen Science Investigation
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsFry, CD, Rawlins, L, Krause, LH, Suggs, RM, McTernan, JK, Adams, ML, Gallagher, DL, Anderson, S, Allsbrooks, IV, R
Conference NameAmerican Geophysical Union Fall Meeting
Date Published12/2017
PublisherAmerican Geophysical Union
Conference LocationNew Orleans, LA

August 21, 2017 provided a unique opportunity to investigate the effects of the total solar eclipse on high frequency (HF) radio propagation and ionospheric variability. In Marshall Space Flight Center’s partnership with the US Space and Rocket Center (USSRC) and Austin Peay State University (APSU), we engaged students and citizen scientists in an investigation of the eclipse effects on the mid-latitude ionosphere. The Amateur Radio community has developed several automated receiving and reporting networks that draw from widely-distributed, automated and manual radio stations to build a near-real time, global picture of changing radio propagation conditions. We used these networks and employed HF radio propagation modeling in our investigation. A Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation (HamSCI) collaboration with the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) ensured that many thousands of amateur radio operators would be “on the air” communicating on eclipse day, promising an extremely large quantity of data would be collected. Activities included implementing and configuring software, monitoring the HF Amateur Radio frequency bands and collecting radio transmission data on days before, the day of, and days after the eclipse to build a continuous record of changing propagation conditions as the moon’s shadow marched across the United States. Our expectations were the D-Region ionosphere would be most impacted by the eclipse, enabling over-the-horizon radio propagation on lower HF frequencies (3.5 and 7 MHz) that are typically closed during the middle of the day. Post-eclipse radio propagation analysis provided insights into ionospheric variability due to the eclipse. We report on results, interpretation, and conclusions of these investigations.

Full Text