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International Journal of Electrical & Computer Sciences IJECS-IJENS Vol: 11 No: 04 1

Aderemi A. Atayero, Matthew K. Luka and Adeyemi A. Alatishe

Abstract — The communication link between a satellite and the II. BASIC LINK ANALYSIS

Earth Station (ES) is exposed to a lot of impairments such as Link analysis basically relates the transmit power and the

noise, rain and atmospheric attenuations. It is also prone to loss receive power and shows in detail how the difference between

such as those resulting from antenna misalignment and

these two is accounted for. To this end the fundamental

polarization. It is therefore crucial to design for all possible

attenuation scenarios before the satellite is deployed. This paper

elements of the communications satellite Radio Frequency

presents the rudiments of a satellite link design in a tutorial form (RF) or free space link are employed. Basic transmission

with numerical examples. parameters, such as antenna gain, beam width, free-space path

loss, and the basic link power equation are exploited. The

Keywords — Satellite communications, Link analysis, Link concept of system noise and how it is quantified on the RF

design, EIRP, SNR, CNR. link is then developed, and parameters such as noise power,

noise temperature, noise figure, and figure of merit are

I. INTRODUCTION defined. The carrier-to-noise ratio and related parameters used

to define communications link design and performance are

T he satellite link is essentially a radio relay link, much like

the terrestrial microwave radio relay link with the singular developed based on the basic link and system noise parameters

advantage of not requiring as many re-transmitters as are introduced earlier.

required in the terrestrial link. Transmission of signals over a The flux density and link equation can be used to calculate

satellite communication link requires Line-of-Sight (LoS) the power received by an earth station from a satellite

communication, but since theoretically three equidistant transmitter with output power Pt watts and driving a lossless

satellites in the geosynchronous orbit can effectively cover antenna with gain Gt, the flux density in the direction of the

over 90 percent of the earth surface, the need for multiple antenna bore sight at a distance R meters is given by:

PG (1)

retransmissions is removed. Satellite communication t t [W / m 2 ]

4 R 2

specialists, radio and broadcast engineers are in the business

PtGt is called the Effective Isotropic Radiated Power or EIRP

of determining the factors required for optimal link

because an isotropic radiator with an equivalent power equal

availability and quality of performance. These factors can be

to PtGt would produce the same flux density in all directions.

divided into two broad categories; the conduit factors and the 1

content factors. The conduit factors include such factors as:

earth-space and space-earth path (a.k.a. uplink and downlink) Example A:

effect on signal propagation, quality of earth station A satellite downlink at 12 GHz operates with a transmit power

equipments, and the impact of the propagation medium in the of 20 W and an antenna gain of 45 dB. Calculate the EIRP in

frequency band of interest, et cetera. The content factors deal dBW.

mainly with the type of message transmitted and the devices

involved in its transformation from one form to another for Solution: EIRP = 10log20 +45 =58 dBW

suitability for transmission over a microwave medium. These 2

include, but are not limited to: satellite functionality, nature For an ideal receiving antenna with an aperture area of A m2

and peculiarities of the precise nature of information, data would collect a power of Pr watts given by

PtGtA (2)

protocol, timing, and the telecommunications interface Pr A [Watts ]

standards that apply to the service. It is for these reasons that a 4 R 2

proper engineering methodology is required to guarantee The product PtGt is called is called Effective Isotropic

timely deployment and effective and efficient exploitation of Radiated Power (EIRP) since an isotropic radiator with an

satellite communication applications and devices. These in equivalent power equal to PtGt would produce the same flux

turn must guarantee delivery of objectives for quality, density in all directions. The received ideal antenna gain is

reliability and availability. The remaining part of this tutorial given by:

4 A G 2 (3)

paper presents the various component parts necessary for Gr A r

designing a robust satellite link with appreciable availability 2 4

and required signal/noise ratios. Thus

Pt G t G r (4)

Pr

4 R /

2

the Department of Electrical & Information Engineering, Covenant

University, PMB1023 Ota, Nigeria. (phone: +234.807.886.6304; e-mail:

1

– Denotes the beginning of an example.

atayero@ieee.org). 2

– Denotes the end of an example

IJENS

International Journal of Electrical & Computer Sciences IJECS-IJENS Vol: 11 No: 04 2

Equation (4) is known as the link equation and it is essential in c. If the satellite operates at a frequency of 11 GHz and

the calculation of power received in any radio link. The term the Earth Station (ES) antenna has a gain of 52.3 dB.

(4R/)2 is known as the Path Loss (Lp). It accounts for the Determine the received power.

dispersion of energy as an electromagnetic wave travels from

a transmitting source in three-dimensional space. A measure Solution

of the attenuation suffered by a signal on the Earth-Space Data and conversion:

path. For a real antenna, however, the physical aperture area Satellite antenna gain = 22 dB = 1022/10 = 158.5 W;

Ar, the effective aperture area Ae, and the aperture efficiency Satellite signal wavelength

A are related by the equation (5).

Ae A Ar (5) c 3 10 8

0.0273 m

f 11 10 9

For a real antenna equations (2) and (4) become (6) and (7):

PG A PG A where c – speed of light;

Pr t t A r t t e [Watts ] (6)

4 R 2

4 R 2 Earth station to satellite distance, R=39,000 km = 3.9x107 m

4 A A r 4 A e D 2 a) Substituting the given values into (1), we have:

Gr (7) 20 158.5

1.66 10 13W / m 2

A

2 2

2

Q A D2 4 3.9 10 7

The link equation expressed in equation (4) may be read as Using the decibel notation:

presented in equation (8). 10 log(Pt G t ) (20 log R 10 log(4 ))

EIRP Receive antenna gain (8)

Power received [Watts] 10 log(20 158.5) (20 log 3.9 10 7 10 log12.57)

Path loss

Using decibel notations, equation (8) can be simplified to: 35.01 151.82 10.99

Pr EIRP G r L p [ dBW ] (9) 127.8 dBW / m 2

where Note that

EIRP 10 log Pt G t [ dBW ] 10 log(1.66 10 13 ) 127.8 dBW / m 2

Gr 10 log 4 A e / 2

[ dB ] b) The power received with an effective collecting antenna of

10 m2 aperture is:

L p 20 log 4 R / [ dB ]

Pr Ae 1.66 10 13 10 1.66 10 12W

III. SIGNAL ATTENUATION In decibels:

Pr A 127.8 10 117.8 dBW

The path loss component of equation (9) is the algebraic sum

of various loss components such as: losses in the atmosphere Note that

due to attenuation by air, water vapor and rain, losses at the 117.8 dBW 10 11.78W 1.66 10 12 W

antenna at each side of the link and possible reduction in c) Working in decibels using equation (9) we have:

antenna gain due to antenna misalignment (due to poor L P 20 log( 4 R / )

operation of the AOC3 satellite subsystem). This needs to be 20 log( 4 3.9 10 7 / 0.0273 )

incorporated into the link equation to ensure that the system 205 .08 dB

margin allowed is adequate. Thus, equation (9) can be

rewritten as (10): Pr EIRP G r L p

Pr EIRP G r l ta l ra l atm l rain l pol l pt ...(10) 35 .01 52 .3 205 .08

where 117 .77 dBW .

lta–Attenuation due to transmit antenna, lra–Attenuation due to

receive antenna, latm–Atmospheric attenuation, lrain–

Attenuation due to precipitation, lpol–Attanuation due to IV. SOURCES OF INTERFERENCE

polarization, lpt–Antenna pointing misalignment related With many telecommunication services using radio

attenuation transmission, interference between services is inevitable and

can arise in a number of ways. The Satellite Users Interference

Reduction Group (SUIRG) categorizes satellite

Example B:

communication interference into five main groups, these are:

A satellite at a distance of 39,000 km from the EIE 1. User error (Human error and equipment failure)

departmental building radiates a power of 20 W from an 2. Crossbow Leakage

antenna with a gain of 22 dB in the direction of a VSAT at the

3. Adjacent satellites

EIE building with an effective aperture area of 10 m2.

Find: 4. Terrestrial services

a. The flux density at the departmental building 5. Deliberate interference

b. The power received by the VSAT antenna

However, for the purpose of satellite link design, interference

may be considered as a form of noise and hence, system

performance is determined by the ratio of wanted to

interfering powers. In this case the wanted carrier to the

3

AOC – Attitude and Orbit Control subsystem

IJENS

International Journal of Electrical & Computer Sciences IJECS-IJENS Vol: 11 No: 04 3

interfering carrier power or C/I ratio [2]. The single most Example D:

important factor controlling interference is the radiation Given that [C/I]U = 26 dB and [C/I]D = 24 dB, determine the

pattern of the earth station antenna. overall Carrier-to-Interference ratio of the given link [C/I]UD.

A. Downlink and Uplink Interference Ratios Solution:

Consider two satellites, SC as the wanted satellite and SI as the 1. Do unit conversion from dB

interfering satellite. The carrier power received at an earth 2. Determine inverse ratio [I/C] values

station is given by equation (11): 3. Use equation (15)

C EIRP C G R FC L ac (11) 4. Determine inverse ratio [C/I] value

[*] – denotes values are in decibels. 5. Do unit conversion back to dB

C / I U 26 dB 10 2.6 398 .11

where EIRPC – Equivalent Isotropic Radiated Power from C / I D 24 dB 10 2.4 251 .19

satellite SC; GR – Bore-sight (on-axis) receiving antenna gain;

FC – footprint contour of the satellite transmit antenna and Lac

– free space loss. An equation similar to equation (11) may be I / C U 1 / 398 .11 0.00251

used for the interfering carrier power, albeit with the I / C D 1 / 251 .19 0.00398

introduction of an additional term: [PD], which incorporates from (15)

the polarization discrimination. Also the receiving antenna I / C UD 2.51 10 3 3.98 10 3 0.00649

gain at the earth station is determined by the off-axis angle ,

hence

giving:

C / I UD 10 log 0.00649 21 .88 dB

I EIRP I G R FI L ac [ PD ] (12)

Assuming that the free-space loss is the same for both the

carrier and interference signals, then from equations (11) and B. Carrier To Noise Ratio (C/N)

(12) we have that: One of the objectives of any satellite communication system is

C I EIRP C EIRP I G R G R [ PD ] to meet a minimum carrier to noise (C/N) ratio for a specified

(13)

percentage of time. The C/N ratio is function of the system

EIRP G R G R [ PD ]

C / I D noise temperature, which is very important in understanding

The subscript D is used to denote Downlink. the topic of carrier to noise ratio.

V. SYSTEM NOISE

Example C:

The desired carrier [EIRP] from a satellite is 36 dBW, and A. Noise temperature

the on-axis ground station receiving antenna gain is 43 dB, Noise temperature provides a way of determining how much

while the off-axis gain is 25 dB towards an interfering thermal noise active and passive devices generate in the

satellite. The interfering satellite radiates an [EIRP] of 31 receiving system. The most important source of noise in

dBW. The polarization discrimination is assumed to be 4 dB. receiver is thermal noise in the pre-amplification stage. The

Find the downlink Carrier to Interference ratio. noise power is given by the Nyquist equation as (16):

Pn kT p B n (16)

Solution:

Where Pn – delivered to load with matched impedance to

For the Space-Earth path (Downlink), using equation (13) we source noise; k – Boltzman constant = 1.39 x 10-23 J/K = -

have that the C/I ratio will be: 228.6 dBW/K/Hz; Tp – Noise temperature of source in Kelvin;

Bn – Noise bandwidth in which the temperature is measured in

C / I D 36 31 43 25 4 27 dB

Hz.

The term kTp is noise power spectral density and is constant

For the Earth-Space path (Uplink), the C/I ratio will be given for all radio frequencies up to 300 GHz. A low noise amplifier

by equation (14): is usually desired. An ideal noiseless amplifier has a noise

temperature of 0 K. Gallium Arsenide field effect transistors

C / I U Power G S G S [ PU ] (14)

(GaAsFET) are normally used as amplifiers in satellite

where

[Power] – Difference in dB between wanted and interference

transmit powers; [GS] – Satellite receive antenna gain for

wanted earth station; [GS()] – Satellite receive antenna gain

for interfering earth station; [PU] – Uplink polarization

discrimination.

Assuming that the interference sources are statistically

independent, the interference powers may be added to give the

total interference ratio of the satellite link.

I / C UD I / C U I / C D (15)

Fig. 1. Simplified earth station receiver [2].

IJENS

International Journal of Electrical & Computer Sciences IJECS-IJENS Vol: 11 No: 04 4

communication systems because they can be used to achieve 10 dB loss. c) How can the noise temperature of the receiver

noise temperatures of 30 K to 200 K without physical cooling. be minimized when the mixer has a loss of 10 dB?

GaAsFET can be built to operate at room temperature with a

Solution

noise temperature of 30 K at 4 GHz and 100 K at 11 GHz;

other conventional amplifiers give higher values. a) The system noise temperature is given by equation (17),

after unit conversion from dB.

A simplified ES receiver is presented in Fig. 1. Since the 23 dB 10 2.3 199.53 0 dB 10 0 1

RF amplifier in a satellite communication receiver must

generate as little noise as possible, it is called a low noise 500 1000

T S 25 50 82.5 K

amplifier (LNA). The mixer and local oscillator form a 200 1 200

frequency conversion stage that down-converts the radio b) If the mixer had a loss (as is usually the case), the effect of

frequency signal to a fixed intermediate frequency (IF), where IF amplifier would be greater. Gm =–10 dB = 0.1, then TS

the signal can be amplified and filtered accurately. BPF is the becomes:

band pass filter, used for selecting the operational frequency 500 1000

T S 25 50 127.5 K

band of the ES. The receiver shown in Fig. 1 employs a single 200 0.1 200

stage down frequency conversion. c) Lower system temperatures are obtained by using a higher

gain LNAs. Suppose we increase the LNA gain in this

example to Grf = 50 dB (= 105), then Ts becomes:

500 1000

T S 75 75 0.005 0.1 75.105 K

10 5 0.1 10 5

B. Noise Figure

Noise figure (NF) is frequently used to specify the noise

generated within a device. The operational noise figure of a

device can be gotten from equation (18).

SNRin

NF (18)

SNRout

where SNRin , SNRout – is the Signal-to-Noise ratio at the input

and the output of the device respectively.

Fig. 2. Double conversion super-heterodyne ES receiver [2]. Since the noise temperature is more useful in satellite

communications, it is best to convert noise figure to noise

temperature Tn using the relationship in equation (19).

Many earth station receivers use the double super-

SNR

heterodyne configuration shown in Fig. 2, which has two T n T 0 NF 1 T 0 in

1 (19)

stages of frequency conversion. The front end of the receiver SNRout

is usually mounted behind the antenna feed and converts the Where T0 – reference noise temperature = 290 K

incoming RF signals to a first IF in the range 900 MHz to The value of NF is usually given in dB in the literature and

1400 MHz. This allows the receiver to accept all the signals must be converted before using it in equation (19). The

from a satellite in a 500 MHz bandwidth at C or Ku band for relationship between Tn and NF for some typical values is

example. The noise is further reduced in IF low noise block given in Table 1.

converter (LNB). The second IF amplifier has a bandwidth TABLE 1: RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TN AND NF.

matched to the spectrum of the transponder signal.

Tn ,

100

150

200

290

400

600

20

40

60

80

0

K

noiseless double conversion receiver shown in Fig. 2 is given

by equation (17): NF

0.29

0.56

0.82

1.06

1.29

1.81

2.28

3.0

3.8

4.9

,

0

T T if

T S T in T rf m [K ] (17) dB

G rf G m G rf

1.069

1.138

1.208

1.276

1.718

1.517

1.690

1.995

2.399

3.090

1

Example E: Example F:

Suppose we have a 4 GHz receiver with the following gains Given a noise figure of 0.82 dB find the corresponding noise

and noise temperatures: Grf = 23 dB, Tin = 25 K, Tm = 500 K, temperature.

Tif =1000 K and Trf = 50 K. a) Calculate the system noise

temperature assuming that the mixer has a gain Gm = 0 dB. b) Solution

Determine the system noise temperature when the mixer has a NF = 0.82 dB = 100.082 = 1.208

from equation (19) we have that

IJENS

International Journal of Electrical & Computer Sciences IJECS-IJENS Vol: 11 No: 04 5

2901.208 1 290 0.208 The availability of a satellite communication system is the

ratio of the actual period of correct operation of the system to

60.32 K the required period of correct operation [3]. This availability

depends not only on the reliability of the constituents of the

C. Figure of merit (G/T) system, but also on the probability of a successful launch, the

From equation (4) we have the power of the carrier signal at replacement time and the number of operational and back-up

the receive antenna as Pr. And from equation (16) we have the satellites (in orbit and on the ground). Availability of the earth

noise power given by the Nyquist equation. Since the C/N stations depends not only on their reliability but also on their

ratio is the ratio of signal power to noise power, we have that: maintainability. For the satellite, availability depends only on

P PG G reliability since maintenance is not envisaged with current

C N r t t r 2 kT S Bn techniques. Availability A is defined as given in equation (21).

Pn 4 R /

ROT - DT

A (21)

Pt G t G r G r Pt G t G r

2 2

ROT

C (20) Where ROT and DT – Required Operational Time and Down

kT S Bn 4 R T S kBn 4 R T S

Time respectively.

ROT is the period of time for which the system is required to

C N f G r T S be in active operational regime, while DT is the cumulative

Where C is constant for a given operational mode of the amount of time the system is out of order within the required

satellite, thus C/N G/T. The ratio Gr/Ts (or simply G/T) is operational time. To provide a given system availability A for

known as the Figure of Merit. It indicates the quality of a a given required time L, it is necessary to determine the

receiving satellite earth system and has a unit [dB/K]. number of satellites to be launched during the required time L.

This number will affect the cost of the service. The required

number of satellites N and the availability A of the system will

Example G: be evaluated for two typical cases for which Tr is the time

An earth station has a diameter of 30 m, and an overall required to replace a satellite in orbit and P is the probability

efficiency of 69%. It is used to receive a signal of 4150 MHz. of a successful launch.

At this frequency, the system noise temperature is 79 K when

A. No backup Satellite in Orbit

the antenna points at the satellite at an elevation angle of 28˚.

a) What is the earth station G/T under these conditions? For this case, the number of satellites to be launched is

b) If heavy rain causes the sky temperature to increase so that given by equation (22).

the system noise temperature increases to 88 K what is the

change in G/T value?

N L P T 1 e

U T

(22)

Where L – ROT [years]; P – Probability of success of each

Solution launch; T – mean time to failure (MTTF); U – Maximum

lifespan of satellite.

a) From equation(7) we have that

If it is assumed that satellites close to their end of maximum

4 A D 2

Gr lifetime U are replaced soon enough so that, even in the case

2 of a launch failure, another launch can be attempted in time,

at 4.15 10 6 Hz; c f 0.0723 m the mean unavailability (breakdown) rate is:

tr

30 2 B (23)

G r 0.69 1,172,856.9 P T

0.0723 Where tr – time required for each replacement and the

60.69 dB availability A = 1- B of the system is thus:

b)

tr

For Ts 79 K 10log79 18.98 dBK A 1 (24)

P T

G T 60.69 18.98 41,71 dB / K

If Ts increases to 88 K in heavy rain, then B. Back–up Satellite in Orbit

By assuming, pessimistically but wisely, that a back-up

Ts 88 K 10log88 19.44 dBK

satellite has a failure rate of l and a maximum lifetime U equal

G T

/

60.69 19.44 41, 25 dB / K to that of an active satellite, it becomes necessary to launch

twice as many satellites during L years as in the previous case

Change in G/T value reflected in equation (22):

G /T G T G T 41.71 41.25

U T

/

N 2 L P T 1 e (25)

0.46 dB / K

Taking account of the fact that tr/T is a small value, the

availability of the system expressed in equation (22) becomes:

IJENS

International Journal of Electrical & Computer Sciences IJECS-IJENS Vol: 11 No: 04 6

VII. LINK BUDGET Step 5. Determine transponder output power from its gain or

The link budget determines the antenna size to deploy, power output backoff.

requirements, link availability, bit error rate, as well as the Step 6. Establish a downlink power and noise budget for the

overall customer satisfaction with the satellite service. A link receiving earth station

budget is a tabular method for evaluating the power received Step 7. Calculate (C/N)down and (C/N)0 for a station at the

and the noise ratio in a radio link [2]. It simplifies C/N ratio

outermost contour of the satellite footprint.

calculations

The link budget must be calculated for an individual Step 8. Calculate SNR/BER in the baseband channel.

transponder, and must be recalculated for each of the Step 9. Determine the link margin.

individual links. Table 1 below shows a typical link budget for Step 10. Do a comparative analysis of the result vis-à-vis the

a C band downlink connection using a global beam GEO specification requirements.

satellite and a 9m earth station antenna. Link budgets are Step 11. Tweak system parameters to obtain acceptable

usually calculated for a worst-case scenario, the one in which (C/N)0 /SNR/BER values.

the link will have the lowest C/N ratio or lowest tolerable

Step 12. Propagation condition determination.

availability.

Step 13. Uplink and downlink unavailability estimation.

TABLE 1. C–BAND GEO SATELLITE LINK BUDGET IN CLEAR Step 14. Redesign system by changing some parameters if

AIR the link margins are inadequate.

C – band satellite parameters Step 15. Are gotten parameters reasonable? Is design

Transponder saturated output power 20 W

Antenna gain on axis 20 dB

financially feasible?

Transponder bandwidth 36 MHz Step 16. If YES on both counts in step 15, then satellite link

Downlink frequency band 3.7 – 4.2 GHz design is successful – Stop.

Signal FM – TV analogue signal

FM – TV signal bandwidth 30 MHz Step 17. If NO on either (or both) counts in step 15, then

Minimum permitted overall C/N in receiver 9.5 dB satellite link design is unsuccessful – Go to step 1.

Receiving C – band earth station

Downlink frequency 4 GHz IX. CONCLUSION

Antenna gain on axis at 4GHz 49.7 dB

Receiver IF bandwidth 27 MHz A number of factors have to be taken into consideration in the

Receiving system noise temperature 75 K design of a robust satellite link. We have presented the most

Downlink power budget salient of these factors and examined how they are interrelated

Pt – satellite transponder output power, 20 W 13 dB

vis-à-vis satellite link design for the provision of optimal

Bo – transponder output backoff -2dB

Gt – satellite antenna gain, on axis 20 dB service availability. The transmitted and received power of the

Gr – earth station antenna gain 49.7 dB link between the satellite and earth stations must be accounted

LP – free space path loss at 4GHz -196.5 dB for, losses due to the link and communication equipments

Lant = edge of beam loss for satellite antenna -3 dB must be taken into consideration et cetera. The link ratios,

La = clear air atmospheric -0.2 dB which include carrier–to–noise and Bit error rate are good

Lm = other losses -0.5dB

Pr = received power at earth station -119.5 dBW

indicators of the feasibility of the system design. The system

Downlink noise power budget in clear air availability is another factor of high interest, and must

k = Boltzmann’s constant -228.6 dBW/K/Hz therefore be taken into account. Frequency re – use enhances

TS = system noise temperature, 75 K 18.8 dBK the capacity of the satellite, which makes it a vital element for

Bn = noise bandwidth 27 MHz 74.3 dBHz optimizing the link. A sample link budget was outlined to

N = receiver noise power -135.5 dBW

C/N ratio in receiver in clear air

illustrate the process. We have summarized in the satellite link

C/N =Pr – N = -119.5 – (-135.5) 16.0 dB design methodology the most salient points necessary for

achieving a robust satellite link design with desired

VIII. SATELLITE LINK DESIGN METHODOLOGY characteristics.

The design methodology for a one-way satellite

REFERENCES

communication link can be summarized into the following

[1] Dennis Roddy, “ Satellite Communications”, 3rd edition, McGraw Hill,

steps. The return link follows the same procedure. USA, 2001, ISBN: 0-07-120240-4

[2] Timothy Pratt et al., “Satellite Communications “Copyright©2003,

Methodology ISBN: 9814-12-684-5

Step 1. Frequency band determination. [3] Gerard Maral and Michel Bousquet, “ Satellite Communication

Systems”, 5th edition, John Wiley, UK, 2002

Step 2. Satellite communication parameters determination. [4] International Telecommunications Union, “Handbook on satellite

Make informed guesses for unknown values. communications”, 3rd edition, April, 2002, ISBN: 978-0-471-22189-0.

Step 3. Earth station parameter determination; both uplink and [5] J. A. Pecar, “The New McGraw-Hill Telecom Factbbok”, McGraw-Hill,

New York, 2000, ISBN: 0-07-135163-9.

downlink.

Step 4. Establish uplink budget and a transponder noise power

budget to find (C/N)up in the transponder

IJENS

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