Looking for your apps? Click the account icon in the upper right corner of the page.

Solar Cycle 25

Are solar cycles affecting your GNSS accuracy?

Hero Image

Approximately every 11 years, the sun's magnetic poles flip, generating notable solar activity known as the “solar cycle.” This results in solar flares that can interfere with GNSS signal timing as the radio waves pass through the ionosphere. Solar Cycle 25 will peak in 2025, with effects potentially identified approximately two years before and afterward.

Solar eruptions cause an increase in the total electron count within the ionosphere, which is located 50-1000 km above Earth. As this total electron count increases, parts of the ionosphere become agitated, leading to greater satellite signal delays at the rover. Any technology using high-frequency radio signals can be impacted by these events.

Expected difficulties could include longer times to secure a fixed solution, reduced position fix stability, or even lower solution quality.

Solar flares can persist from a few minutes to hours, while the sun's active region may produce flares for several weeks. The effects vary by location.

Incorporating more satellite constellations enhances GNSS receiver performance during such events. As ionospheric activity typically rises during the day and subsides at night, it's advisable to shift field activities from midday to mornings or late evenings, especially in challenging terrains like  valleys or near obstacles such as trees and buildings. Prior to commencing work, we recommend using GNSS planning tools or checking space weather public websites.

Topcon GNSS receivers improve with each generation, offering advanced error correction algorithms and robust hardware to combat interference. For the best performance, use a multi-constellation receiver and ensure your software and firmware are updated. This approach is helpful whether you are using a local base station or a correction service like Topnet Live. To learn more, or for the latest information regarding software or firmware versions, please contact your local Topcon supplier.