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Prof. Sudesh R.





General Background,
Frequency Allocations For Satellite
Basic Satellite System,
System Design Considerations,
Satellite Orbits:
Laws Governing Satellite Motion,
Antenna Look Angles,
Antenna Mount,
Limits Of Visibility,
Earth Eclipse Of Satellite,
Inclined Orbits,
Sun-Synchronous Orbit,
Launching Of Geostationary Satellites.
Wave Propagation And Polarization:
Atmospheric Losses,
Ionospheric Effects,
Rain Attenuation,
Other Impairments,
Antenna Polarization,
Polarization of Satellite Signals,
Cross Polarization Discrimination,
Ionospheric Depolarization,
Rain Depolarization,
Ice Depolarization.
Communication Satellites:
Design Considerations,
Lifetime and Reliability,
Spacecraft Sub Systems,
Space Segment Cost Estimates.
Satellite Antenna:
Antenna Basics,
Aperture Antennas,












Prof. Sudesh R. Agrawal




Parabolic Reflectors,
Offset Feed,
Double Reflector Antenna Shaped
Reflector Systems.
Link Design:
Transmission Losses,
Link Power Budget Equation,
System Noise,
Carrier to Noise Ratio For Uplink and
Combined Uplink and Downlink
Carrier to Noise Ratio,
Intermodulation Noise.
Earth Stations:
Design Considerations,
Multiple Access Techniques:
FDMA/TDMA Operation In A
Multiple Beam Environment,
Multiple Access Examples







Prof. Sudesh R. Agrawal

General Background:
Satellites offer a number of features because very large areas of the earth are
visible at a time. Because of this reason, satellite links many users at the same
time who are widely separated geographically.
The same feature enables satellites to reach to the places which are difficult to
reach due to harsh weather or has difficult terrain.
However, satellite signals ignore political boundaries as well as geographic
ones, which may create some issues.
To give some idea of cost, the construction and launch cost of the Canadian
Anik-E1 satellite (in 1994 Canadian dollars) was $281.2 million, and that of
the Anik-E2, $290.5 million.
The combined launch insurance for both satellites was $95.5 million.
However, the huge cost can be ignored if the distance between transmission
and reception point is relatively large, or if the satellite is used to communicate
with billions of users at any given time.
Satellites are also used for remote sensing, examples being the detection of
water pollution and the monitoring and reporting of weather conditions.
Some of these remote sensing satellites also form a vital link in search and
rescue operations for downed aircraft and the like.

Frequency Allocations For Satellite Services:

Requires international coordination and planning as the process is very
complicated. Wide range of frequencies has to be divided accordingly among
various countries.
If same frequency is used for communication between two countries,
interference can take place if the distance between countries is not large.
This process is carried out by International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
World is divided among three regions viz.

Region 1: Europe, Africa, what was formerly the Soviet Union, and
Region 2: North and South America and Greenland,
Region 3: Asia (excluding region 1 areas), Australia, and the southwest

Within these regions, frequency bands are allocated to various satellite

services, although, some of the same services may work on different
frequency in different regions.

Prof. Sudesh R. Agrawal

Some of the services provided by satellites are:
Fixed satellite service (FSS)

Provides links for existing telephone networks as well as for the

transmission of television signals to cable companies for distribution
over cable systems.

Broadcasting satellite service (BSS)

For Direct to Home (DTH) service.
Mobile satellite services
Rendering services to land mobile, maritime mobile, and aeronautical

Navigational satellite services

For Global Positioning Systems (GPS).
Meteorological satellite services
For Search and Rescue (SAR).

Figure 1: Frequency Band Designations

In the Fig. 1, the frequency band under K band is termed as Ku band, which is
used for DBS and certain FSS. In this band, the range of frequency is 12 14
GHz, denoted by 14/12 GHz, out of which, higher one is the uplink frequency
and lower one is the downlink frequency.
C band is used only for FSS. DBS operation is not allowed in this band. In this
band, the most widely used frequency band is 6/4 GHz.
VHF band is used for certain mobile, navigational services and to transfer data
from weather satellites.

Basic Satellite System

Prof. Sudesh R. Agrawal

The basic satellite system consists of a space segment which serves a

specific ground segment. The characteristics of GS depends on whether
the system is for fixed, mobile or direct broadcast applications.
The block diagram is shown in Fig. 2. Ground stations or Earth stations
transmit RF signals to operating satellite. The received signals are,
Retransmitted to desired location on Earth.

Figure 2: The main elements of Satellite Communication Network

The satellite is controlled and its performance is monitored by the Telemetry

Tracking and Command (TT&C) station.
Communication can be established easily between all earth stations located
within the coverage region through the satellite.
The primary role of a satellite is to relay electronic signals.
Usually, a back-up satellite is present for each main functioning satellite.

System Design Considerations:

Area of coverage (single antenna is visible to of the earth surface)
Spacecraft power and allocated bandwidth

Prof. Sudesh R. Agrawal

Satellite - satellite versus satellite - earth station (time-invariant vs. timevariant)
Transmission is cost independent of distance (within coverage)
Broadcast, multicast, point-point apps
Very high bandwidth, data rates available to user
High quality of transmission
Earth-satellite-earth propagation delay (~ s)

Weather Forecasting
To monitor the climatic conditions of earth.
To monitor the assigned areas of earth and predict the weather
conditions of that region by taking images.
To predict disasters like hurricanes, and monitor the changes in the
Earth's vegetation, sea state, ocean colour, and ice fields
Radio and TV Broadcast
To make available hundreds of channels across the globe.
To broadcast live matches, news, and world-wide radio services.
Military Satellites
To gather intelligence for military purposes, or as a military weapon.
Navigation Satellites
For precise localization world-wide in the range of some meters.
Ships and aircraft rely on GPS as an addition to traditional navigation
For fleet management of trucks or for vehicle localization in case of
Global Telephone
Long distance communication replacing wires, however this results in
delayed signal, since the signal has to travel approximately 72000 km.
Connecting Remote Areas
Due to their geographical location many places all over the world do
not have direct wired connection to the telephone network or the
internet (e.g., researchers on Antarctica) or because of the current state
of the infrastructure of a country.
Here the satellite provides a complete coverage and (generally) there is
one satellite always present across a horizon.
Global Mobile Communication

Prof. Sudesh R. Agrawal

The satellites offering world-wide connectivity to a customer,

replacing AMPS and GSM. This reduces the cost of installation of base
stations and switching centres.
Certain area falling under a particular satellite is termed is footprint of
that satellite.
Communication between different footprints can be done by providing
communication link between two or more satellites.

Satellites (spacecraft) orbiting the earth follow the same laws that govern the
motion of the planets around the sun.
From early times much has been learned about planetary motion through careful
Johannes Kepler (15711630) was able to derive empirically three laws describing
planetary motion.
Keplers laws apply quite generally to any two bodies in space which interact
through gravitation.
The more massive of the two bodies is referred to as the primary, the other, the
secondary or satellite.

Laws Governing Satellite Motion

Keplers First Law:
Keplers first law states that, the path followed by a satellite around the
primary body will be an ellipse.
An ellipse has two focal points shown as F1 and F2 in Fig. 3.
The centre of mass of the two-body system, termed the barycentre, is
always centered on one of the foci.
When we consider primary body as earth and secondary body as satellite,
since the mass difference between earth and satellite is enormous, the
centre of mass coincides approximately with the centre of earth, placing
centre of earth on one of the foci.
Semi-major axis is termed as a and semi-minor axis is termed as b. The
eccentricity is given as
a2b 2
( ab)

Prof. Sudesh R. Agrawal

Figure 3: The foci F1 and F2, the semi-major axis a, and the semi-minor axis b of an ellipse

The eccentricity and the semi-major axis are two of the orbital parameters
specified for satellites (spacecraft) orbiting the earth.
For an elliptical orbit, 0 < e < 1.

Keplers Second Law:

Keplers second law states that, for equal time intervals, a satellite will
sweep out equal areas in its orbital plane, focused at the barycenter.
With respect to the laws governing the planetary motion around the sun,
this law could be stated as A line joining a planet and the sun sweeps our
equal area during equal intervals of time.

Figure 4: Keplers second law. The areas A1 and A2 swept

From Fig. 4 and considering the law stated above, if satellite travels
distances S1 and S2 meters in 1 second, then areas A1 and A2 will be
The same area will be covered everyday regardless of where in its orbit a
satellite is. As the first Keplerian law states that the satellite follows an
elliptical orbit around the primary, then the satellite is at different distances
from the planet at different parts of the orbit. Hence the satellite has to
move faster when it is closer to the Earth so that it sweeps an equal area on
the Earth.

Prof. Sudesh R. Agrawal

This happens because, when the satellite is closer to earth, it experiences

centripetal acceleration due to rotation of earth which is nothing but a
circular motion. When a body experiences centripetal force from a rotating
body, it tends to move towards the centre of the rotating body. This acting
force, adds up with present velocity of the satellite resulting in increased
speed when the satellite is in the vicinity of earth.
As the satellite moves away from earth, centripetal force decreases and
hence velocity of satellite decreases, resulting it to move slower.

Keplers Third Law:

Keplers third law states that the square of the periodic time of orbit is
proportional to the cube of the mean distance between the two bodies.
The mean distance is equal to the semi-major axis a. For the artificial
satellites orbiting the earth, Keplers third law can be written in the form:
a3 =

Where n is the mean motion of the satellite in radians per second and
is the earths geocentric gravitational constant. Its value is
= 3.986005 1014 m3/s2

However, the above equation is true only when perfectly spherical earth is
taken into account. Also, satellite should not be affected by any other
forces like atmospheric drag. But these conditions are not true, and hence
one more factor will be added later on.
With n in radians per second, the orbital period in seconds is given by


The importance of Keplers third law is that it shows there is a fixed

relationship between period and semi-major axis.

Apogee: Point farthest from earth.
Perigee: Point closest to earth.
Line of APsides: Line joining apogee and perigee through the centre of earth.
Ascending Node: Point where satellite orbit crosses equatorial plane going from
south to north.
Descending Node: Point where satellite orbit crosses equatorial plane going from
north to south.

Prof. Sudesh R. Agrawal

Line of Nodes: Line joining ascending and descending node through the centre of
Inclination: Angle between orbital plane and equatorial plane, measured at
ascending node from equator to orbit, going from east to north.
Prograde Orbit: Orbit in which satellite moves in the same direction as the earths
rotation. Also known as Direct Orbit. Most satellites are launched in this orbit,
since earths rotational velocity provides orbital velocity thereby saving the fuel.
Retrograde Orbit: Orbit in which satellite moves in opposite direction as the
earths rotation.
Argument of Perigee: Angle from ascending node to perigee measured in orbital
plane at the earths centre, in the direction of satellite motion.
Right Ascension of the Ascending Node: As the earth spins, the longitude of
ascending node keeps on changing since orbital plane is constant in its location.
Thus, it cannot be used to determine to true orbital position. Hence, for practical
determination of an orbit, the longitude and time of crossing of the ascending node
are frequently used. As a reference point, line of Aries is used. Line of Aries is an
imaginary line joining equatorial plane and centre of sun. The right ascension of
the ascending node is then the angle measured eastward, in the equatorial plane,
from the line of Aries to the ascending node.
Mean Anamoly: Average value of angular position of the satellite with reference
to the perigee.
True Anamoly: Angle from perigee to the satellite position measured from earths

Figure 5: Pictorial Depiction of Inclination angle, Argument of Perigee, Right Ascension of

Ascending Node

Orbital Perturbations:

Prof. Sudesh R. Agrawal

Theoretically, an orbit described by Kepler is ideal as Earth is considered to be
a perfect sphere and the force acting around the Earth is the centrifugal force.
This force is supposed to balance the gravitational pull of the earth.
In reality, other forces also play an important role and affect the motion of the
satellite. These forces are the gravitational forces of Sun and Moon along with
the atmospheric drag.
Effects of Sun and Moon is more pronounced on geostationary earth satellites
whereas the atmospheric drag effect is more pronounced for low earth orbit

Effects of Non-Spherical Earth:

As the shape of Earth is not a perfect sphere, it causes some variations
in the path followed by the satellites around the primary.
As the Earth is bulging from the equatorial belt, and keeping in mind
that an orbit is not a physical entity, and it is the forces resulting from
an oblate Earth which act on the satellite produce a change in the
orbital parameters.
The parameter which get affected is mean motion of satellite. Under
the condition that earth is perfect sphere, the nominal mean motion of
the satellite is given as

n0= 3

However, due to oblateness of earth (shape of oblate spheroid), the

above equation changes to

K 1 ( 11.5 sin2 i )

K1 is a constant which evaluates to 66,063.1704 km2.
The earths oblateness has negligible effect on the semi-major axis a,
and if a is known, the mean motion is readily calculated.
The orbital period taking into account the earths oblateness is termed
the anomalistic period (e.g., from perigee to perigee).

The oblateness of the earth also produces two rotations of the orbital
The first of these, known as regression of the nodes, is where the nodes
appear to slide along the equator.

Prof. Sudesh R. Agrawal

In effect, the line of nodes, which is in the equatorial plane, rotates

about the centre of the earth. Thus , the right ascension of the
ascending node, shifts its position.
If the orbit is prograde, the nodes slide westward, and if retrograde,
they slide eastward. As seen from the ascending node, a satellite in
prograde orbit moves eastward, and in a retrograde orbit, westward.
The nodes therefore move in a direction opposite to the direction of
satellite motion, hence the term regression of the nodes. For a polar
orbit (i = 90), the regression is zero. An approximate expression for
the rate of change of with respect to time is
When the rate of change given by Eq. (2.12) is negative, the regression
is westward, and when the rate is positive, the regression is eastward. It
will be seen, therefore that for eastward regression, i must be greater
than 90o, or the orbit must be retrograde.
The other major effect produced by the equatorial bulge is a rotation of
the line of apsides. This line rotates in the orbital plane, resulting in the
argument of perigee changing with time. The rate of change is given by
=K ( 22.5 sin 2 i )
Again, the units for the rate of rotation of the line of apsides will be the
same as those for n (incorporated in K). When the inclination i is
equal to 63.435, the term within the parentheses is equal to zero, and
hence no rotation takes place. Use is made of this fact in the orbit
chosen for the Russian Molniya satellites.
Also, earth is slightly elliptical in shape having eccentricity of 10 -5.
This is referred to the equatorial ellipticity.
Due to this, the satellite in geostationary orbit is no longer in the
circular orbit but in elliptical orbit, and when it is on minor axis of the
orbit, it is closest to earth.
This gives rise to gravity gradient and because of this, a drift is
observed in satellite at this point, i.e. at the minor axis of the orbit.
These two points are separated by 180 on the equator and are at
approximately 75 E longitude and 105 W longitude.
Satellites in service are prevented from drifting to these points through
station-keeping maneuvers. Because old, out-of-service satellites
eventually do drift to these points, they are referred to as satellite

Atmospheric Drag:
The satellites which are orbiting closer to earth, experiences the effect
of atmospheric drag especially when satellite is crossing perigee point.

Prof. Sudesh R. Agrawal

This results in decrement of the satellite velocity, with the result that
the satellite does not reach the same apogee height on successive
The result is that the semi-major axis and the eccentricity are both
reduced. Drag does not noticeably change the other orbital parameters,
including perigee height.

The Geostationary Orbit:

The satellite appears to be stationary in this orbit, since it is rotating around
earth, matching the rotational velocity of earth, hence the name geostationary.
Orbit must satisfy following three conditions to become stationary:
The satellite must travel eastward at the same rotational speed as the
The orbit must be circular.
The inclination of the orbit must be zero.
From Keplers third law, radius of geostationary orbit can be calculated. The
orbital period of the satellite will be same as earth i.e. 1 day. From this, we can
find n using
Where P = 1 day = 86400 seconds
Which gives n = 7.272 10-5 rad/sec
And hence from Keplers third law, using

a3 = 2
a=42,241 km
This is radius of geostationary orbit. Denoting it by aGSO, it can also be written
P 1 /3
aGSO =
4 2

( )

Here, we have taken the rotation period of earth to be 1 day i.e. 24 hours. In
reality it is 23 hour 56 minutes and 4 seconds. When this value of rotation is
taken, the value of aGSO changes to 42,164 km.
This distance is from the centre of earth. If we want to find height of satellite
from the surface of earth, we have to subtract the value of radius of earth
(6378 km) from this value of aGSO which turns out to be 35786 km.
In practice, a precise geostationary orbit cannot be attained because of
disturbance forces in space and the effects of the earths equatorial bulge.
Hence station keeping maneuvers are required to keep a track on satellite and
correct their position from time to time.

Prof. Sudesh R. Agrawal

Antenna Look Angles:
To point directly at the satellite, antenna on earth station requires two
look angles viz. azimuth angle and elevation angle.
In case of elliptical orbit, the look angles changes each time the
satellite changes its course.
But in geostationary orbit, the case is much simpler since the distance
between satellite and the surface is constant.
In case of applications where point to point communication is required
(e.g. military base), antenna beamwidth has to be very narrow, and in
case of application where one point to many point or broadcast
communication is required (e.g. TV or radio transmission), antenna
beamwidth becomes broad.
When beamwidth is narrow, tracking system is required and it is not
required when beamwidth is broad.
The three pieces of information that are needed to determine the look
angles for the geostationary orbit are
1. The earth-station latitude, denoted here by l
2. The earth-station longitude, denoted here by L
3. The longitude of the subsatellite point, denoted here by S (often this
is just referred to as the satellite longitude) as shown in Fig. 6.
Here, latitudes north will be taken as positive angles, and latitudes
south, as negative angles. Longitudes east of the Greenwich meridian
will be taken as positive angles, and longitudes west, as negative
angles. For example, if a latitude of 40S is specified, this will be taken
as -40, and if a longitude of 35W is specified, this will be taken as

Prof. Sudesh R. Agrawal

Figure 6: The geometry used in determining the look angles for a geostationary satellite

The azimuth angle is defined as the angle measured clockwise from the
true north to the intersection of the local horizontal plane TMP and the
plane TSO (passing through the earth station, the satellite, and the
earth's centre). The azimuth angle A is between 0 and 360. Depending
on the location of the earth station with respect to the sub-satellite
point, the azimuth angle A is given by:
a. When ES is south and east, A = A
b. When ES is south and west, A = 360 A
c. When ES is north and east, A = 180 A
d. When ES is north and west, A = 180 + A
Where A is the true azimuth angle and A is the reference angle shown
in Fig. 6. Pictorial depiction of azimuth angle for different locations is
shown in Fig 7.

Prof. Sudesh R. Agrawal

Figure 7: Azimuth angles related to angle A

The elevation angle E is defined as the angle produced by the

intersection of the local horizontal plane TMP and the plane TSO with
the line of sight between the earth station and the satellite. Of course
we assume that the earth is a perfect sphere with radius R e = 6378km.
From Fig. 6 we have,


A =tan

1 MO| s L|
Re tan l

( )

tan | s L|
cos l

( )

R e tan l

= tan

tan | s L|
sin l

To calculate elevation angle E, consider the triangle TSO shown in Fig.

6 and redrawn in Fig. 8, we have,
E= + 90=( 90 ) + 90 =

Prof. Sudesh R. Agrawal

Figure 8: Triangle to calculate Elevation Angle

The angle can be calculated from triangle TPO as follows:


( OPR )

Since, OP= cos| s L|= cos l cos cos |s L| as seen from triangle TMO and MPO, we


( cos l cos cos| s L|)

To evaluate , we have,


( TBSB )=tan ( r R
R sin )

rR e cos l cos cos|sL|

R e sin cos

( cos l cos cos| s L|) ]

Thus, the elevation angle is given by,

E=tan 1

r Re cos l cos cos| s L|

Re sin cos

( cos l cos cos |s L|) ]

cos1 ( cos l cos cos|s L|)

A satellite is capable of communicating with an earth station using a

global coverage antenna if the station is in the footprint of the satellite,
which is a function of time except for a geostationary satellite.
Consider Fig. 9 where the earth coverage angle 2 max is the total angle
subtended by the earth as seen from the satellite. This angle is
important in the design of a global coverage antenna and depends on
the satellite altitude. The communication coverage angle 2 is similarly
defined, except that the minimum elevation angle Emin, of the earth
station antenna must be taken into account. For an elevation angle E of

Prof. Sudesh R. Agrawal

the earth station antenna, the communication coverage angle 2 is
given by the relation

Figure 9: Coverage angle and Slant angle

sin sin(90 + E) cos E

Re + H
R e+ H
Where a spherical earth with radius Re is assumed and H is the altitude
of the satellite orbit and is a function of time except for a geostationary
satellite where H = 35,786 km. Thus,
2 =2sin

cos E
Re + H

The maximum coverage area is found out by putting E = 0, thus,

2 max =2 sin1

R e+ H

For a geostationary satellite, maximum coverage area is found to be

The central angle is given as,
For a geostationary orbit, the central angle corresponding to the earth
coverage angle max is obtained by setting = max and E = 0, which
yields = 81.3. If a minimum elevation angle of 5 is required for the
earth station antenna, then = 76.3. Thus it is seen that the polar

Prof. Sudesh R. Agrawal

regions above these northern and southern latitudes of 76.3 will not be
covered by the footprint of the satellite.

Earth Eclipse of Satellite

For a geostationary satellite that utilizes solar energy, the duration and
periodicity of solar eclipses are important because no solar energy is
available during eclipses.

Figure 10: (a) Sinusoidal variation of earth's inclination angle; (b) Apparent movement of the sun

i e ( t )=23.4 sin

The earths equatorial plane is inclined at an angle ie(t) with respect to

the direction of the sun. This annual sinusoidal variation is given in
degrees (Fig. 10) by,

2 t
Where the annual period T = 365 days and the maximum inclination is
iemax = 23.4. The time tA and tS when the inclination angle ie is zero are
called the autumn equinox and the spring equinox and occur about
September 21 and March 21; respectively. The times t W and tSU when
the inclination angle ie is at its maximum are called the winter solstice
and the summer solstice and occur about December 21 and June 21;

Prof. Sudesh R. Agrawal

Figure 11: Eclipse when sun is at equinox

To find the eclipse duration consider Fig. 11 where the finite diameter
of the sun is ignored (the sun is assumed to be at infinity with respect
to the earth), hence the earth's shadow is considered to be a cylinder of
constant diameter. The maximum shadow angle occurs at the
equinoxes and is given by
= 180 cos1
max =180 cos1

( )

Because a geostationary satellite period is 24 h, this maximum shadow

angle is equivalent to a maximum daily eclipse duration,
T max=
24=1.16 h
Thus for time period of 1.16 h, satellite will not receive solar energy
and have to function totally on the battery backup power.
Inclined Orbits