Online Journal of Space Communication


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS) propagation experiment was designed to obtain slant-path attenuation statistics for locations within the United States and Canada for use in the design of low-margin Ka-band satellite communication systems. Experimenters at seven different locations have collected propagation data for more than two years. The propagation terminals used for the experiment were identical. A single preprocessing program was used by the experimenters to provide for automatic calibration, generation of attenuation histograms, and data archival. In this paper, the calibration procedures are described and estimates given for measurement accuracy.

ACTS provided beacons at 20.2 and 27.5 GHz for use in making attenuation measurements. In addition to the beacon receivers, each ACTS propagation terminal has two total power radiometers with center frequencies at the beacon frequencies. The radiometers are used to establish the beacon signal reference levels needed for calculating beacon attenuation values. For the combined radiometer and beacon measurement system, the attenuation measurement error was less than a maximum of 1.0 dB and was generally less than 0.3 dB. The dynamic range for attenuation measurement varied from site to site depending on location relative to the peak of the satellite beacon antenna pattern. For locations within the continental United States, the dynamic range was better than 20 dB.



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