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03/28/2012

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# Sheet 1 of 12

Satellite Communications Tutorial
J P Silver E-mail: john@rfic.co.uk

1 ABSTRACT
This tutorials discusses the key areas of satellite communications, discussing the various elements of a satellite communications system eg antennas, path loss etc. The communication system elements can then be connected together and analysed to determine a link budget.

2.1 ATMOSPHERIC ABSORPTION Figure 1 & Figure 2 indicates the average atmospheric absorption as a function of frequency at different altitudes above sea-level and the effects of rain and fog. Note that the figures cover different frequency ranges. Note 1. The first graph shows resonant absorption peaks due to different molecules in the atmosphere at particular frequencies. Usually these frequencies are avoided for communications applications, though in special cases they may be deliberately used so that the signal will not propagate beyond a certain range - eg covert military signals, or mobile communications where the limited frequency range available means that the same frequency must be re-used many times in different communication cells.

2 FREQUENCIES FOR MICROWAVE SATELLITE COMMUNICATIONS
The frequencies used for microwave satellite communications are determined by (i) the absorption of the atmosphere as a function of frequency (ii) the antenna size needed to produce a beam with the required angular spread (iii) international agreements/regulations

Figure 1 Average atmospheric absorption of millimeter waves. A: Sea level ; T = 20˚C; P = 760mm; PH2O = 7.5g/m3. B : 4 km; T = 0˚C; PH2O = 1g/m3 .

receiver connection . 3. the antenna noise is due to energy. Tsky . ie absolute temperature) using the general relationship available noise power = kTB where k is Boltzmann's constant and B is the bandwidth.ie they will worsen the S/N ratio and so they are included here. antenna noise 2. 3. .5 ANTENNA NOISE TEMPERATURE TA satellite Antenna Noise Power NA = kTA. which supplies noise power to the antenna. It varies with frequency and the elevation angle E of the antenna. The two diagrams Figure 4 and Figure 5 show Tsky for different frequency ranges. k = 1.a cable or waveguide TC this may include RF. The output noise power from the antenna N A = kTA B will depend on the positions and temperatures and emissivities of the noise sources and the gain and polar radiation pattern of the antenna.1 Antenna pointing to the sky (ground station antenna) In this case the output noise power from the antenna has two components which are represented by the sky temperature. The sky temperature is higher for E=0° (antenna pointing to the horizon) because of the longer path of the radiation through the atmosphere. receiver noise TR mixer and IF stage contributions In each case the noise power in watts (this is the available noise power) is calculated from the noise tempera- 3.38 × 10-23 J K-1 A useful figure to remember is that at 290K the available noise power density is -174dBm/Hz TA 1. but their effect on the communication link will be the same as for noise .5. antenna . such as stars and galaxies and other communication signals.Sheet 5 of 12 The noise power associated with the link is specified by the system noise temperature Ts. which is fed to the antenna by unwanted radiation sources.galactic sources etc Ground wave Radiation into the Back lobes from the surface reflections Earth surface Figure 3 Antenna noise temperature as a result of other noise sources including galactic and other satellites. Referring Figure 3.B PR Other RF sources eg satellites. and the earth temperature Tearth Tsky is due to noise originating in the atmosphere. the atmosphere itself behaves as a resistive medium. Elevation angles of less than 10° are usually avoided.) Also. This is made up from three contributions: ture (which must be in degrees K. (The latter are not strictly noise signals in that they will not be random.

Tearth ≈ 10K Tearth ≈ 100K If an antenna points towards the Sun the noise effective temperature is about 10 000K. RX IL = L (eg 2dB) gain = 1/L Tearth arises from radiation which feeds into the antenna via the back lobes of the antenna radiation pattern. This situation should be avoided.5 g/m3 of water vapour concentration (φ is the elevation angle) For E ≥ 10° and f ≤ 15GHz Tsky ≤ 40K.5. Noise figure F = L ∴ effective noise temperature Te =T0 (L−1) and Gain G = 1/L Tc = To (F-1) = 290(L-1) Where. the physical temperature of the earth. so that the earth fills the beam.6 ANTENNA-TO-RECEIVER CONNECTING CABLE Although it is a passive element the cable or waveguide that connects the antenna to the receiver has a noise temperature TC which. contributes to the system noise temperature.2 Antenna pointing to the earth Usually the beamwidth is less than or equal to the angle subtended by the earth. To = 290K . 3.5m) antenna Figure 4 Antenna sky noise temperature as a function of frequency and antenna angle. A passive component with an insertion loss L has Figure 5 Sky noise for clear air and 7. Then the noise temperatutre of the antenna is about 290K.Sheet 6 of 12 Radiation into the Back lobes from the surface reflections For a large (≈5m) Cassegraine antenna For a small (≈ 0. 3.

. with G1 G1G2 each noise figure replaced by its equivalent effective noise temperature using T e=To (F −1) .6 1 2 4 6 10 20 40 60 100 Cooled parametric amplifier 0. 5 + 5 = 57. TR = Trf + Tif Tm + Grf Grf Gm Figure 6 shows typical equivalent noise temperatures and figures for various devices.125 0. 5 + 50 = 102.1 ∴ TR = 50 + 500 1000 + = 50 + 2.Sheet 7 of 12 3..2 0.5 TR =To (FR −1) FR is the receiver noise figure In the schematic receiver shown in Figure 7. Ftotal F − 1 F − 1 = F1 + 2 + 3 + . the mixers used for frequency translation and the IF stages. A schematic diagram of a simple receiver and its equivalent noise circuit is shown below. which may be used in microwave receivers.0 Bipolar Transistor amplifier Tunnel diode Amplifier FET Amplifier Mixer 8 7 6 5 4 3 Noise figure (dB) 2 1.25 Uncooled Parametric amplifier 1.5 K 200 200 × 1 Usually. 2000 1500 1000 700 500 Equivalent noise temperature (K) 300 200 150 100 70 50 30 20 15 10 7 0.7 RECEIVER NOISE Receiver noise includes contributions from thermal noise.4 0. The total receiver noise figure TR can be calculated from the individual contributions from the usual formula for cascaded circuits. These may arise in the input RF section of the receiver.1 . shot noise and possibly flicker noise. TR = Trf + Tif Tm + Grf Grf Gm Note: This formula follows from the corresponding formula for the noise figure Ftotal for cascaded stages. Example LNA (low noise amplifier) Frequency (GHz) Figure 6 Typical equivalent noise temperature and noise figures of various devices Trf = 50K Mixer Grf = 23dB [Grf = 200] Gm = 0dB [ Gm = 1] Tm = 500K IF stage TIF = 1000K ∴ TR = 50 + GIF = 30dB [ GIF = 1000] 500 1000 + = 50 + 2. 5K 200 200 × 0 . the mixer has conversion loss eg suppose Gm = − 10dB ∴ Gm = + 0.

3fo etc • • • • Vin Pure sinewave fo • • Figure 10 The diagram shows the non-linear (in the saturation region) Vout vs vin curve for an amplifier. amplification. The amount of back-off can be expressed in terms of either the input signal back-off or the output signal backoff. The diagram Figure 10 shows a non-linear amplifier voltage transfer characteristic and the way in which it leads to signal distortion. frequency MUX and re-transmission. so the input is mixed down from 14GHz to 1GHz for de-multiplexing and equalisation. Intermodulation can be reduced using back-off. de-multiplexers etc HPAs – high power amplifiers – to increase power levels before re-transmission on the down-link.IMD PSAT Output power backoff Pout Pin Back off Figure 11 shows how distortion can be reduced by backing off the input signal from the saturation region to the linear region. so D λ is greater for the (common) receive/transmit antenna – it will have a higher gain the input filter is a fairly wideband bandpass‘roofing’ filter to allow all the uplink frequencies in. Saturation . 2fo. as shown in Figure 11 Figure 11. Non-linear performance in the HPAs can intoduce harmonics. The distortion is normally represented in terms of additional harmonics of the input signal. The input signal signal power is reduced to move below the non-linear segment of the characteristic. A disadvantage of using back-off is that it reduces the efficiency of the amplifier because the RF output from the amplifier is reduced whilst it is still consuming the same DC power. • The Ku (14/11GHz) system (Figure 9 – B) has many of the same elements. 4. which also shows the saturation and saturation power of the amplifier. If a sine-wave is applied to the input the nonlinearity will distort the amplified output sinewave as shown. then mixed up to 11GHz for power amplification. which are introduced by the amplifier. but eliminating out-of-band noise LNA – low noise amplifier D/C – down converter to 4GHz (the down-link frequency) for signal processing – error correction.1 NON-LINEAR BEHAVIOUR IN HPAS Because each transponder will be processing a very large number of messages simultaneously any nonlinearity in the transponder amplifier will lead to intermodulation which causes interference between the message signals by transferring modulations from one frequency range to another. but the down-link frequency (11GHz) is too high for the elements in each transponder. The non-linearity may also be represented in terms of the amplifier power transfer characteristic. signal channelling etc. intermodulation distortion etc band-pass filters at various points remove out-ofband products from the HPAs etc and reduce the background noise. The amount of back-off needed to avoid intermodulation increases with the number of messsages (ie modulated carriers) in the signal which is applied to the trans- . but they cannot remove in-band products – eg 3rd order intermodulation (IM) products Vout Non-linear saturation Distorted fo. Each sub-frequency band is processed by a single transponder. equalisers – correct for phase differences between the different frequency components of a signal which are introduced by filters. frequency demultiplexing – divides input signal into sub-bands to reduce non-linear distortion during amplification.Sheet 11 of 12 In the C band 6/4GHz transponder (Figure 9 A): • the uplink is at the higher frequency.