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What is SCINDA ?

The Scintillation Network Decision Aid (SCINDA) is a real-time, data driven communication outage forecast and alert system developed for the United States Air Force Space Command by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Ionospheric Hazards Specification and Forecast Team, Hanscom AFB. Its purpose is to aid in the specification and prediction of satellite communication degradation due to ionospheric scintillation in the equatorial region.

Ionospheric disturbances can cause rapid phase and amplitude fluctuations of satellite signals observed at or near the earth's surface; these fluctuations are known as scintillation. The most intense natural scintillation events occur during nighttime hours within 20o of the earth's magnetic equator, a region encompassing more than 1/3 of the globe's surface. Scintillation affects radio signals up to a few GHz frequency and seriously degrades and disrupts satellite-based navigation and communication systems. SCINDA was designed to provide regional specification and short-term forecasts of scintillation activity to operational users in real-time.

The SCINDA system concept is presently being demonstrated using eight equatorial stations in South America, Southwest Asia and Southeast Asia (see map). Scintillation parameters from available UHF (FLTSAT) and L-band (GOES, GPS) satellite links and ionospheric drift velocities are measured and recorded at the remote sites. At fifteen minute intervals the reduced parameters are retrieved via internet to Hanscom AFB, where they are used to drive a semi- empirical model that produces simple three-color graphical representations of large-scale equatorial scintillation structures and associated communication impact regions. Since February 2002 the model has been installed at the Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA), Offutt AFB, NE and the scintillation maps are available to users for proto-type operational support via a secure network  (READ MORE).