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• Introduction to Satellite Communications

• Orbital Aspects of Earth Satellites
• Types of Satellites
• Satellites Communication Systems
• Satellite Subsystems
• Earth Stations
• Satellite Routing
• Satellite Handover
• Applications of Satellites
1. Definition:

 Satellite is a physical object that orbits

or revolves around some celestial body.
 In general Satellite is an
artificial satellite stationed in space for
the purposes of telecommunications,
military, surveillance, etc
2. History:

 The first artificial satellite was the Soviet Sputnik-1,

launched on October 4, 1957, and equipped with an
on-board transmitter that worked on two frequencies,
20.005 and 40.002 MHz .

 The first American satellite to relay communications

was Project SCORE in 1958, which used a tape
recorder to  store and forward voice messages.

 Telstar was the first active, direct relay

communications satellite. Belonging to AT &T.
Orbital Aspects
Earth Satellites
Here we deal with the following concepts:

1. Orbit Fundamentals
2. Geosynchronous
3. Station Keeping
4. Attitude Control
5. Satellite Position
6. Satellite Launching
1. Orbit Fundamentals:

 Satellite keeps moving around the Earth

in some orbital pattern .
 Orbit Fundamentals is based on
a. Orbit Shape
b. Direction of satellite’s revolution
c. Satellite Speed and Period
d. Satellite Angles
e. Satellite Repeaters
a. Orbit Shape

 Satellite keeps moving around the Earth

in some orbital pattern called “Orbit
 Orbit Shape can be either
a. Circular Orbit b.
Elliptical Orbit
b. Direction of satellite’s revolution

1. Posigrade Orbit
i.e. satellites revolution=direction of Earth’s rotation

2. Elliptical Orbit
i.e. satellites revolution=against the direction of
Earth’s rotation
c. Satellite Speed and Period
 The speed of the satellite is measured in
miles per hour, kilometer per hour , or
 Speed varies depending upon the distance
of the satellite from Earth.
 Two types of Periods ----- 1. Sideral Period
2. Synodic Period
d. Satellite Angles
1. Angle of Inclination
Is the angle formed between the
equatorial plane and the
satellite’s orbital plane as the
satellite enters the northern

2. Angle of Elevation
Is the angle that appears
between the line from the Earth
station’s antenna to the satellite
and the line between the Earth
station’s antenna and the Earth’s

3. Polar Orbit
4. Equatorial Orbit
e. Satellite Repeaters
 To use a satellite for communications relay or repeater
purposes ground station antenna must track or follow the
satellite as it passes overhead.

 Height and speed only determines how long the satellite

can stay connected with the ground station.

 Some time the satellite may disappear around the other

side of the Earth.

 To solve this its be launched in a very long elliptical orbit.

2. Geosynchronous Satellites:
 A geostationary satellite revolves around
the earth at a constant speed once per
day over the equator.
 It appears to be in a fixed position to an
earth-based observer.
 Usually geosynchronous satellites are
placed at a distance of 22,300 miles or
35,860 km above the Equator.
 The satellite at that distance revolves
around the Earth in exact 24 hours.
 Speed of the satellite=7000 miles/hour
Advantages of Geosynchronous Satellites:

 Since the satellite remains apparently

fixed, no special earth station tracking
antennas are needed
 The antenna can simply be pointed at the
satellite and remain fixed.
 Continuous communications are possible.
 Most communication satellites used today
are geosynchronous satellites.
Disadvantages of Geosynchronous Satellites:

 During an eclipse the Earth or moon gets between

the satellite and the Sun, is causes the sunlight to
be blocked from the solar panel.

 So an eclipse shuts off all power to the satellite.

 To avoid this backup batteries are used.

3. Station Keeping:

 Even with a very good launch the

satellite can drift some-what from its
orbit. This is called “Orbital Drift”.
 It is caused by a variety of forces like
sun’s, moon’s gravitational pull, etc.
 The process of firing the rockets under
ground control to maintain or adjust the
orbit is referred to as “Station
4. Altitude Control:

 Satellites have to be placed in some altitude for

optimal performances. This is called as Altitude

 Stabilizing the satellite is also called as Altitude


 Two types stabilization are there:

 Spin Stabilization
 Three axis Stabilization

 Most common is the Spin Stabilization, where

the satellite spins around using the thrusters
attached to it on its primary axis.
5. Satellite Positioning:

 In order to use a satellite, it has to be positioned

in space properly, usually it a predetermined by
design of the satellite and is achieved during

 Once the position is known, the earth station

antennas have to pointed at the satellite for
optimal transmission and reception.

 The location of a satellite is generally specified in

terms of latitudes and longitudes.
6. Satellite Launching:
 Satellites are placed into their orbits by mounting
them on top of rockets which literally shoot them
into space.

 Occasionally, the rocket will contain more than one

satellite. Here the main satellite is called as “Initial
Payload” and others as “Secondary payload”.

 The satellite is first put into what is called a

“transfer orbit”, a highly elliptical orbit that
permits adjustments to the satellite to be made
prior to its being placed into final position.

Natural Natural
Satellites Satellites
Based on
Based on
the Earth

Remote Sensing
Geostationary Satellites
E.g.: Moon
Medium Earth Satellites
Orbiting Satellites
Low Earth Satellites
Orbiting Satellites
Highly Elliptical Satellites
Orbiting Satellites
Scientific and
Polar Military Satellites
A. Natural Satellites:

 A natural satellite or moon is a celestial

body that orbits a planet or smaller body, which is
called the primary. Technically, the term natural
satellite could refer to a planet orbiting a star, or
a dwarf galaxy orbiting a major galaxy.
 E.g.: Moon
Fig : Jupiter's Moon
B. Based on Orbiting the Earth:

 There are five types.

1. Geostationary Satellites
- Satellites are placed above the equator at a distance of about
36000 km.
- Almost today all satellite orbiting the Earth are of this type

2. Medium Earth Orbiting Satellites

- Operate at a distance of about 5,000-12,000 km.
- Up to now there has not been many satellites in this class.
3. Low Earth Orbiting Satellites

- Are placed at an altitude of 5,00-1,500 km.

- Typical duration of them are 95-120 minutes.
- They try to ensure a high elevation for every spot on Earth to
provide high quality communication link.
- Uses advanced compression schemes, transfer rate of 2,400
bits/sec can be enough for voice communication.

4. Highly Elliptical Orbiting Satellites

- Comprises of all satellites with a relatively low-altitude perigee and

an extremely high-altitude apogee.
- It has the advantage of long dwell times at a point in the sky
during the approach to and descent from apogee. 
- E.g.: US’s Sirius Satellite
5. Polar Satellites

- These satellites orbit from Northern Hemisphere to Southern hemisphere.

E.g.: PSLV, Polar Wind(USA)
- They follow highly elliptical orbit, inclined about 86 o with an orbital
period of 18 hours
- It gathers multi-wavelength imaging of the aurora, and measures the
entry of plasma into the polar magnetosphere, etc..
C. Based on Applications :
 There are five types.
1. Remote Sensing Satellites
- Are a series of Earth Observation satellites, which observes weather, landscapes,
atmosphere, oceanic surface, climate changes, urban planning, etc..
- Two types of remote sensing --- 1. Active 2. Passive
2. Meteorological Satellites
- a type of satellite that is primarily used to monitor the weather and
climate of the Earth.
- Satellites can be either polar orbiting, or geostationary, etc..
- It sees clouds and cloud systems, City lights, fires, effects of
pollution, auroras, sand and dust storms, snow cover, ice mapping,
boundaries of ocean currents, energy flows, etc., are other types of
environmental information collected using weather satellites.
3. Communication Satellites
- They aid telecommunications, as by reflecting or relaying a

- have been a significant part of domestic and global

communications since the 1970s.

- Uses --- Telephony, Satellite TVs, Satellite Internet,

Satellite Radio, Aircraft communications, etc..
4. Navigation Satellites

- Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) is the standard

generic term for satellite navigation systems that provide
autonomous geo-spatial positioning with global coverage.

- allows small electronic receivers to determine their location

(longitude, latitude, and altitude) to within a
few meters using time signals transmitted along a line-of-
sight by radio from satellites.

- Receivers on the ground with a fixed position can also be

used to calculate the precise time as a reference for
scientific experiments.

- As of 2009, the United States NAVSTAR Global Positioning

System (GPS).) is the only fully operational GNSS.
A handheld GPS Receiver
5. Military and Scientific Satellites

- A military satellite is an artificial satellite used for a military

purpose, often for gathering intelligence, as a communications
satellite used for military purposes, or as a military weapon.

- Many cryptographic algorithms are used to encode the signals,

use special frequency ranges, advanced transmitting and
receiving equipments .

- Scientific satellites gather data for scientific analysis. This

includes observations of the atmosphere of our planet, the
stars, the sun and other parts of space.
Military Satellite
 Communication Satellites are originators of

 They instead relay stations for other sources.

Here we deal with the

following concepts:
1. Transponders
2. Satellite Frequency
3. Satellite Bandwidth
4. Increasing Channel
1. Transponders

- Satellite contains a receiver which picks up the transmitted

signal, amplifies it, and translates it into another frequency.
- The transmitter-receiver combination in the satellite is known
as “Transponder”.
- Uplink – Upto 6GHz Downlink – Upto 4GHz
- Typical transponder has a wide bandwidth. But use only a
single signal to minimize interference and to improve
communication reliability.
2. Satellite Frequency Allocations

- Most satellites operate in microwave frequency spectrum.

- It is divided up into frequency bands which have been allocated into

satellite as well as other communications services such as radar.

- The most widely used satellite communications band is the C band.

225-390 MHz P
350-530 MHz J
1530-2700 MHz L
2500-2700 MHz S
3400-6425 MHz C
7250-8400 MHz X
10.95-14.5 GHz Ku
17.7-21.2 GHz Kc
27.5-31 GHz K
36-46 GHz Q
46-56 GHz V
56-100 GHz W
3. Increasing Channel Capacity
- Although the transponders are quite capable, they
nevertheless rapidly become overloaded with
- For these reasons, numerous techniques have been
developed to effectively increase the band-width
and signal carrying capacity of the satellite.
- Two of these techniques are:
1. Frequency Reuse
2. Spatial Isolation
Regulators, DC/DC Power
Charger and
Solar Panel Batteries
protection and Converters,
conditioning DC/AC Inverters
DC to all subsystem DC and AC to
Communication special subsystem
Frequency Control
Receiver Transmitter
Translator Subsystem
Other Transponders

I/Ps Telemetry,
Antenna Tracking, and Propulsion
from on-
Subsystem Control Subsystem
Communications sensors
Ctrl Sgls
to all AKM
Telemetry Antenna subsystems Jet Thrusters
 Generally satellites have many subsystems
which join together for the fully operation of
the satellite.
 The various subsystems in a general
communication satellites are:
1. Power Subsystem
2. Communication Subsystem
3. Antenna Subsystem
4. Telemetry, Tracking, and Control Subsystem
5. Propulsion Subsystem
6. Altitude Control Subsystem
Down Converter

Base Band O/P

LNA Demodula
BPF tor


Receive Subsystem

r Carrier
Antenna Subsystem Oscillator

Base Band I/P

UP Converter Demodula
Driver tor

HPA GCE-Transmit

Transmit Subsystem
Fig: General Block Diagram of Subsystem
 The earth station on the ground is the terrestrial
base of the system.

 The earth station communicates with the satellite

to carry out designated mission.

 It may be located at the end user’s facilities or

may be located with ground-based
intercommunication links between the earth
station and the end user.

 Many earth stations are now located on top of tall

buildings or in other urban areas directly where
the end user resides.
 The various subsystems in an earth station are:

1. Antenna Subsystem

2. Receive Subsystem

3. Transmit Subsystem

4. Ground Communication Equipment (GCE)

1. GCE Transmit Subsystem
2. GCE Receive Subsystem

5. Power Subsystem
Satellite Routing

Inter Satellite Link

UL r L (ISL)

(M se

bi (MU
Gateway Link



Us L)


Spot Beam

Base Station
ri n


User Data
 There are four types of satellite
handovers. They are:

1. Intra-satellite Handover

2. Inter-satellite handover

3. Gateway Handover

4. Inter-system Handover
Various applications of satellites
1. Remote Sensing Satellites

2. Meteorological / Weather


3. Communication Satellites

4. Navigation Satellites

5. Military Satellites

6. Space Exploration Satellites

1. Remote Sensing Satellites
Indian Remote Sensing satellite’s image
2. (a) Meteorological Satellites
2. (b) Weather Satellites
Image of a Weather

Satellite Report
Various weather satellites
orbiting the Earth
3. Communication Satellites
4. Navigation Satellites
5. Military Satellites
6. Space Exploration Satellites
E.g. Martian Communication