Nunzia Giorgia Ferrara: Understanding the problem of radio frequency interference in satellite navigation systems and investigating solutions

Nunzia Giorgia Ferrara.
Millions of people every day benefit from applications and services that rely on satellite-based navigation technology. However, despite its essential role in the modern society, such technology is vulnerable to different threats that can degrade its performance or even deny the service. Radio frequency interference is one of them. Understanding the interference effects and investigating countermeasures is crucial to the development of robust satellite navigation receivers.

Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) technology is so widespread in our society that it is hard nowadays to find infrastructures or systems that do not rely on it. Just to name a few, a disruption in the GNSS operation could have an impact on communications, transportation, energy, and defense infrastructures. The consequences of a malfunction could be severe in case of safety-critical applications, such as aviation, public safety services, and autonomous vehicles.

Despite its essential role, GNSS technology is not immune to errors. Due to the weakness of GNSS signals at the time of reception on Earth, one of the major threats to GNSS operation is radio frequency interference. The presence of interfering signals may lead to a degraded quality of the solution provided by a GNSS receiver or even to a complete loss of service, and, unfortunately, this problem is not a matter of mere possibility, but a common reality. The sources of GNSS interference are numerous, and the incidents tend to be more and more frequent.

In her doctoral dissertation, Nunzia Giorgia Ferrara investigates and assesses the vulnerability of satellite navigation systems to interference, proposing standard test procedures for receiver testing which utilize real-world interfering signals. Such standards would help the GNSS community understand the behavior of receivers in the presence of the most frequently encountered interference types.

Clearly, understanding the interference effects on GNSS receivers operation is only the first step in the development of robust receivers. In order to preserve the availability and the quality of the service, it is greatly important that GNSS receivers are able to identify an interference occurrence and mitigate its effects. In this context, Ferrara also investigates solutions to the interference problem, assessing well-known countermeasures and then focusing on the development of innovative solutions to improve GNSS robustness to interference.

The doctoral dissertation of M.Sc. Nunzia Giorgia Ferrara in the field of satellite navigation titled Interference, Robustness, and Solutions for Multi-GNSS Receivers will be publicly examined in the Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences of Tampere University at 12 o’clock on Friday 18 December 2020. The Opponents will be Dr. Nuria Blanco Delgado from European Satellite Services Provider (ESSP) and Dr.-Ing. Armin Dammann from the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The Custos will be Professor Jari Nurmi.  

The dissertation is available online at http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-03-1810-9.

The event can be followed online via remote connection.

Photo: Sonia Battiato