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The South African Ionosonde Network consists of 4 ionosonde stations located at Grahamstown (Eastern Cape, 33.3°S, 26.5°E), Louisvale (Northern Cape, 28.5°S, 21.2°E), Madimbo (Limpopo, 22.4°S, 30.9°E) and Hermanus (Western Cape, 34.4°S, 19.2°E). All 4 ionosondes are Digisondes produced by the University of Massachusetts, Lowell Center for Atmospheric Research (UMLCAR). The three older Digisondes (Grahamstown, Madimbo and Louisvale) are DPS-4 models, with Grahamstown operating since 1996, and Madimbo and Louisvale since 2000. At the Grahamstown station a Barry Research Chirpsounder operated prior to the installation of the DPS-4 and so there is a database of ionospheric data for Grahamstown going back to 1973. The Hermanus ionosonde is a new model DPS-4D digisonde whose installation was completed in July 2008 and is the first DPS-4D operational in the field throughout the world.

The Hermanus ionosonde was donated by the South African Department of Communications to the HMO and is operated and maintained by the HMO. The other three ionosondes are owned by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) with the maintainance of the Grahamstown station and the data archiving and distribution of all ionospheric data being the responsibility of the HMO. The Department of Physics and Electronics at Rhodes University partners the HMO in the South African ionospheric data collection, archiving and distribution.

All of the South African ionosondes operate continuously on a vertical incidence program with Grahamstown and Hermanus set at a 15 minute resolution and Louisvale and Madimbo at a 30 minute resolution. Drift ionograms are also collected at the Grahamstown and Hermanus stations, and these 2 stations are available for campaign purposes.

Data from the South African ionosonde network is sent in real time to the following:

  1. World Data Center in Boulder through the Space Environment Service
  2. Digital Ionogram Database (DIDBASE) in Lowell
  3. IPS Radio and Space Services in Sydney, Australia

Png images of the ionograms and scaled data can be found on the following websites:

All enquiries and data requests related to this network should be sent by email to Dr Lee-Anne McKinnell at