Category Archives: news

First recording of scintillation on Galileo signals in Antarctica made by Septentrio’s PolaRx5

At the end of last year, the DemoGRAPE consortium observed for the first time ever, ionospheric scintillations on Galileo signals in Antarctica, using Septentrio’s PolaRx5S GNSS reference receiver.

DemoGRAPE investigates improvement of high-precision satellite positioning with a view to developing scientific and technological applications in Antarctica. At higher latitudes, GNSS signal degradation due to ionospheric activity is more pronounced. The more precise phase-based positioning modes are particularly vulnerable to ionosphere disturbance such as scintillations. Elevated ionospheric activity can cause a loss of precise-positioning mode or, in more extreme cases, a total loss of signal lock.

Read full article here

Download the full press release here

DemoGRAPE on the SCAR newsletter

logoImproving our GPS Navigation in Antarctica: First Observations of GNSS Ionospheric Scintillations From DemoGRAPE Project
17 January 2017:

Alfonsi, L., et al. (2016), First Observations of GNSS Ionospheric Scintillations From DemoGRAPE Project, Space Weather, 14, doi:10.1002/2016SW0014882016SW001488.

The Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia leads an international project funded by the Italian National Program for Antarctic Research, called Demonstrator of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Research and Application for Polar Environment (DemoGRAPE), in partnership with Politecnico di Torino, Istituto Superiore Mario Boella, and with South African National Space Agency and the Brazilian National Institute of Space Physics, as key collaborators. DemoGRAPE is a new prototype of support for the satellite navigation in Antarctica. Besides the scientific interest, the accuracy of satellite navigation in Antarctica is of paramount importance since there is always the danger that people and vehicles can fall into a crevasse during a snowstorm, when visibility is limited and travel is restricted to following specified routes using satellite navigation systems. The variability of ionospheric delay and ionospheric scintillation are two of the primary factors which affect the accuracy of satellite navigation. The project will provide a demonstrator of cutting edge technology for the empirical assessment of the ionospheric delay and ionospheric scintillations in the polar regions. The scope of the project includes new equipment for the recording and dissemination of GNSS data and products installed at the South African and Brazilian bases in Antarctica. The new equipment will facilitate the exchange of software and derived products via the Cloud computing technology infrastructure. The project portal is accessible at We report the first Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signal scintillations observed in Antarctica.

The authors thank the SCAR GRAPE (GNSS Research and Application for Polar Environment) Expert Group for assistance.

[read full article]

Don’t get left out in the cold!

Do winter weather conditions have an effect on the accuracy and use of mass-market GNSS devices?
To find out, the European GNSS Agency (GSA) asked the experts working in Antarctica.

The DemoGRAPE project, funded by the Italian National Program for Research in Antarctica (PRNA), is a new prototype of support for satellite navigation in Antarctica. It includes an installed GNSS monitoring system at two research bases, which monitor the ionosphere behaviour, or space weather, over the continent and how it effects satellite signals. The project is being carried out in cooperation with the Italian Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology, the South African Space Agency and the Brazilian Space Agency, with the support of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC).

[Read full article published by European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency]

[Twitter European GNSS Agency]


DemoGRAPE project on air

DemoGRAPE project broadcasted on Onde Quadre, the web radio of the Politecnico di Torino.


Last week Nicola Linty was again guest of Onde Quadre, the web radio of the Politecnico di Torino, as part of the program Seeking Seekers.

Nicola spoke about the expedition in Antarctica, the DemoGRAPE project, the research activities of the group NavSAS and many other curiosities.

Link to the web page of the radio with the podcast
Article on blog

Project Workshop

Scientific/Organizer Committee:
Lucilla Alfonsi (INGV)
Joaquim Fortuny-Guasch (JRC)

Local Organizer JRC
Press: Ufficio stampa INGV


DemoGRAPE is a project closed on last May. It has been funded by the Italian Ministry for University and Research in the frame of the Italian National Program for Antarctic Research.
The project has realized a demonstrator to provide on selected case studies an empirical assessment of the delay and of the corruption induced by the ionosphere on satellite signals in the Antarctic regions. The scope is to develop a prototype of a service addressed to the scientific and technological communities that relies on GNSS for their investigations and applications. DemoGRAPE has experimented the use of Cloud computing to create an innovative technological tool.
The initiative was born into GRAPE (GNSS Research and Application for Polar Environment), SCAR (Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research) Expert Group.
DemoGRAPE runs on archive data and on new measurements acquired at the South African station of SANAE IV (71° S, 2° W, Antarctica) and at the Brazilian station of EACF (62° S, 58° W, Antarctic Peninsula) during the expedition 2015-2016.
The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC) has supported the deployment of the new-concept of GNSS data acquisition.
The DemoGRAPE workshop aims to present the results achieved by the project to collect feedbacks and to delineate the actual scientific advancement in the field.

The event was held at JRC (Ispra, Italy) on 9th November 2016.

ispra DSCN6470


First scintillation data from the Galileo Global Navigation Satellite System recorded at SA Antarctic base

Polar travelling in Antarctica may become significantly safer thanks to the DemoGRAPE instrumentation recently deployed at the South African Antarctic base, SANAE IV.

In January 2016 these instruments recorded ionospheric scintillations for the first time along signal paths from the European Galileo GNSS network.
The aim of this international initiative is to improve the accuracy of satellite navigation in the Polar Regions and develop new scientific and technological applications in Antarctica.
[read full article]

First Galileo Observations in Antarctica

Thanks to DemoGRAPE project – led by INGV – for the first time the European Galileo satellites have been observed ionospheric storm in Antarctica.

Galileo: A Constellation of 30 Navigation Satellites

Galileo: A Constellation of 30 Navigation Satellites

Observed in these days an ionospheric storm in Antarctica. To record it, the receivers of the new Galileo system signals, installed through the project “Demostrator of GNSS Research and Applications for the Polar Environment” (DemoGRAPE –, now entered its operational phase.

Launched in May 2014 under the coordination of the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) and funded by the Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) within the National Research Program in Antarctica (PNRA), DemoGRAPE has the aim of developing a prototype service for the use of satellite positioning systems on the polar regions for all those users who require a high precision positioning, both for technological applications both for scientific research.

[Read full article in Italian]


Press release

Comunicato Stampa: Tempesta inosferica registrata da Galileo (03/02/2016)



DemoGRAPE is now ready to start the activities in the field!

DemoGRAPE is now ready to start the activities in the field! The new installations are going to enter the operative phase with the deployment of high sampling frequency GNSS receivers and with the set up of the software defined radio experiments at the Brazilian (EACF) and South African (SANAE IV) Antarctic stations.

Nicola Linty from POLITO will participate to the Brazilian Antarctic expedition and he is now going to attend the training in northern Italy necessary to be enrolled by PNRA. See the Nicola’s CV.

Follow Nicola’s blog on his experience!


Padraig Riley from SANSA Space Science will participate to the South African Antarctic expedition reaching SANAE IV station on December 2015. See the Paddy’s CV.

Follow Paddy’s experience!







An international project by Italian coordination will help to improve the accuracy of satellite positioning in the Antarctic

DemoGRAPE The project aims to create a prototype of a service for the use of satellite positioning systems on the polar regions of interest for all those users who require a high-precision positioning. The proposed prototype will be of interest both for technological applications and for scientific research. Examples of such applications are: assisting the flight during landing, take-off and changes in airport zones; the positioning of the perforations for the exploitation of natural resources; monitoring of any movement artifacts or natural structures (eg. glaciers, rocks). There are also different scientific investigations based on GNSS data, such as, for example, the prediction of perturbation effects of solar storms on Earth (space weather); the study of the dynamics of the Earth’s crust and the polar cap; measure the concentration of water vapor in the atmosphere.

Society today makes increasing use of satellite positioning systems for a wide range of applications based on high-precision positioning. These systems are identified by the letters GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems). The best known among these is the American GPS (Global Positioning System). Europe, too, is being equipped with its own system, the nascent Galileo.

Systems are high-precision positioning in a position to define the location of an object with an error that falls below the centimeter. The calculation of the position depends on the quality of the satellite signal received on the ground, which, if degraded, may affect the accuracy of the positioning. There are several factors that can affect the quality of the signal. Among the natural factors, the passage of the satellite signals in a particular region of the atmosphere, the ionosphere, is what most disturbs the reception on the ground. This effect may be of different gravity, increasing at polar latitudes, where the ionosphere is often disturbed due to the configuration of the terrestrial magnetic field which facilitates the entry into the atmosphere of energetic particles of solar origin. This flow takes place continuously, by varying its intensity depending on the perturbation that originate on the Sun. This means that, in the polar regions, the high precision GNSS positioning must take account of ionospheric disturbance on the received signals to the ground, that, even in cases in which there are events perturbative solar, results in errors of the order of tens of meters. In terms of the disturbed ionosphere effect can even result in a total loss of ground receiving satellite signals resulting in the inability to provide placement to the user.

DemoGRAPE proposes a prototype of the service to use the knowledge and data available today on the polar regions in order to make possible the use of GNSS for applications of high-precision positioning.

DemoGRAPE The project (Demonstrator for GRAPE), just started (28/05/2014), has been approved and funded by the Ministry of Education, dell ‘ University and Research under the National Research Program in Antarctica (PNRA). Its name comes from the name of the group of experts that has stimulated and inspired the creation. In fact, the initiative stems from GRAPE (GNSS Research and Application for Polar Environment,, Expert Group recognized by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR, international body that deals to stimulate, develop and coordinate scientific research in Antarctica.

The project will have a duration of two years and held measurement campaigns during the Antarctic expeditions planned for 2015-2016 at the scientific basis of the South African Sanae IV and at the base of Brazilian scientific EACF.

DemoGRAPE is coordinated by the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology and with the participation of the Politecnico di Torino and the Istituto Superiore Mario Boella of Turin. The project will be carried out in collaboration with the National Institute for Space Research-INPE (Brazil) and the Space Agency of South Africa-SANSA (South Africa), which offer hospitality in their Antarctic bases.

DemoGRAPE aims to achieve a demonstrator the whose purpose is to provide an assessment of the corruption caused by the ionosphere on satellite signals in the polar region. The goal is to develop a prototype of a service intended for scientific and technological communities that rely on GNSS for both scientific investigations and for technological applications.

Given the peculiarities of the polar ionosphere, the models generally used at mid-latitudes in order to assess the ‘ disturbing effect on satellite signals are significantly inadequate. DemoGRAPE demonstrate the possible use of actual measurements of the ionosphere, taken on the field, for the calculation of high-precision positioning. To do that use an innovative method, a system based on Cloud platform, which answers a question of harmonization and coordination of data and algorithms exist, but owned by a number of national scientific programs. Thanks to Cloud technology, therefore, DemoGRAPE make effective the existing capacity in the field, sharing the results with everyone involved: researchers, public entities (for example, military bodies, state-owned companies) and private (for example, oil companies, companies of services).

methods and results of the project will be a milestone that hopefully will lay the foundation for a reliable exploitation of GNSS at the poles.

International context and the innovative aspects of DemoGRAPE will be an important legacy that will see the PNRA, and thus , Italy, a pioneer in the field of potential services available to assist GNSS operations in Antarctica.