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What Is Satellite Communication and How Does It Work?


Satellite Communication

We cannot envision a world without interpersonal contact. So, connecting is necessary for information to be shared and alternative ideas to be adopted. An American writer named “Edward Everett Hale” wrote a piece published in the Atlantic Monthly from 1869 to 1870. He was the first to speak about satellite communication systems.

However, a Royal Air Force man named Arthur C. Clarke developed the first workable concept and presented it in a paper called ‘Extra-Terrestrial Relays.’ The first artificial satellite, known as Sputnik 1, was launched by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957. This was the main space communication system with a diameter of 58 centimetres.

The Soviet Union gained international notice by launching Sputnik 1.

To better understand satellite communication, consider how readily you can watch the FIFA World Cup on your television. . Thus, for better understanding, we’ll look at this definition and its working principles, types, and so on.

Satellite Communication System: What Exactly Is It?

Well, satellite communication is a type of wireless communication that employs artificial satellites to communicate. Internet, voice, TV, video calling, fax, radio channels, and other services are available through this mode of communication. Also, communication over large distances is possible with this, and it may be used in circumstances and conditions that are permanent for other types of communication.

Furthermore, the artificial satellite may be put in orbit to communicate between different spots on the globe.

The data flow from one sender to a recipient who responds can be regarded as communication. Communication in layman’s language is achievable by employing it as a channel between sender and recipient. Once the receiver receives the signals from the transmitter, it decodes and sends them back to the sender to enable communication. Communication can be accomplished through light in an optical communication system, radio waves in a radio communication system, and telephony in a satellite communication system. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the satellite communication system.

Satellite Communication System: How Does It Work?

Satellite Communication System: How Does It Work?

Communication satellites are similar to space mirrors that let us bounce communications such as internet data, television, and radio from one side of the world to the other. It consists of three steps that might assist in explaining how it works:

  • Uplink
  • Transponders, and
  • Downlink

Consider the following example of television signals. The signal from the television broadcast on the opposite side of the world is first beamed up to the satellite from the earth’s ground station in the first step. This is referred to as uplink.

Transponders like amplifiers, radio receivers, and transmitters comprise the second stage. These transponders are leveraged to enhance the incoming signal and to change its frequency. This helps to ensure that the outgoing signals are not tampered with. The transponders differ based on the signal sources.

The third step includes a downlink that transfers data to the other end of the receiver on Earth. It is critical to remember that there is usually one uplink and several downlinks.

Satellite Communication: Need for It

You are aware that there are several modes of communication and that the propagation of these waves may occur in various ways. Skywave and Ground wave propagation are the two modes of communication for a given distance. The greatest distance they can go is 1500 km, which was surpassed when we invented satellite communication.

Satellite Communication in India

Interestingly, the Indian National Satellite (INSAT) system is one of the largest domestic communication networks in geostationary orbit. We have over 200 transponders in the INSTA system that we employ for a variety of reasons.

Telecommunications, weather forecasting, disaster warning, television transmission, search and rescue operations, and satellite news gathering all fall under this category. From 2002 through 2020, several satellites were launched. The first was KALPANA-1 in 2002, which stood for communication, climate, and environment. GSAT-30, a communication satellite, was launched in January 2020.

Satellite Communication Use Cases

As previously stated, satellite communication is employed in various industries, including broadcasting, telecommunications, and military applications.

  • Broadcasting: The ITU states that communications satellites convey information for widespread usage. In the 1920s, AM radio was the first such use. Previously, communication was sent by one device and received by another.
  • Military: Military applications for communications satellites include intelligence collection, navigation, and confidential communications.
  • Telecommunications: Telephone conversations, data, messages, photos, video broadcasts, and the internet are all included in this broad definition. Modern telecommunications systems are best organised and characterised in terms of networks.

Communication Satellites in Space: Examples

Here is a list of significant communications satellites that have accomplished remarkable accomplishments:

  • SpaceX’s Starlink satellite network seeks to give high-speed internet access throughout the planet. It will house thousands of satellites operating in the Ku and Ka bands when completed.
  • Artemis is an ESA spacecraft that uses a laser connection for communication. Artemis was used to connect with other satellites in orbit, attaining data speeds of 50 Mbit/s with minimal error rates from one such spacecraft to a ground station via itself. It was capable of receiving Ku-band transmissions and transmitting them in L-band.
  • Quantum communications satellites, which is named the Micius satellite, were launched by China in the year 2016. A pair of twin entangled photons would be used in such a satellite. If one is leveraged to create an encrypted message, the only way to decode it is to use the other associated particle. Data transmitted in this manner cannot be duplicated, stolen, or spied on.
  • Iridium-NEXT is a satellite constellation in low-Earth orbit that provides continuous worldwide coverage. The intriguing aspect of these satellites is that, in addition to enabling communication through satellite phones, they are outfitted with payloads that allow them to function as observation satellites, demonstrating that a satellite may serve several functions.

Types of Satellite Communication Services

Satellite communication services are classified as mobile satellite, broadcast satellite, and fixed satellite services, based on the service out forward:

  • MSS (Mobile Satellite Services): These comprise “radiocommunication service between space stations, mobile Earth stations, or between mobile Earth stations via more than one space station,” according to the ITU. In other words, this category comprises two-way speech and data communications, including communications for individuals on the go.
  • Broadcast Satellite Services (BSS): These include “radiocommunication service wherein signals retransmitted or broadcast by space stations are designed for direct reception by the common people”, according to the ITU.
  • Fixed Satellite Services (FSS): The International Telecommunication Union defines it as “the radiocommunication service in the middle of earth stations at specific locations when more than one satellite is used.” This service, used for phone conversations and TV transmission, is distinguished by the low-power signals it delivers and the comparatively big dish antennas necessary to receive it.

Satellite Communication Frequencies

Depending on the requirements, several frequencies are utilised for satellite communications. The following are frequent ranges:

  • L-Band (1-2 GHz): Because of its long wavelength and low frequency, this band is ideal for single transmission during inclement weather and necessitates very small receiving dishes. Although it is used for broadcast satellites in several Asian nations, it is best suited for meteorological satellite broadcasts and the Global Navigation Satellite System.
  • C-Band (4-8 GHz): Well, this particular band was the first to be designated for commercial satellite communications. Because the signal performs quite well in severe weather and is seldom entirely attenuated, it’s mostly employed for satellite television networks. C-Band is utilised in Broadcast Satellite Service and Fixed Satellite Service downlinks.
  • Ku-band (12-18 GHz): This very frequency band is frequently utilised in satellite communications, particularly for domestic BSS and FSS downlinks. For clear video and audio streaming, the high frequency must be supported with adequate equipment and settings. It is also suitable for Internet browsing.
  • Ka-band (17-31 GHz): This frequency is ideal for high-resolution satellite communications since it has twice the bandwidth of the Ku-band. Because of its higher data rates and smaller antennas, it is ideal for broadband internet applications and distant communications.

Satellite Communication: Pros and Cons

Let’s have a look at the benefits and drawbacks of satellite communication in this part.

The following are some of the benefits of employing satellite communication:

  • The coverage area exceeds that of terrestrial systems.
  • Every nook and cranny of the globe may be explored.
  • The cost of transmission is independent of the coverage area.
  • More broadcasting and bandwidth options.

The following are some of the drawbacks of employing satellite communication:

  • Satellite launch into space is an expensive operation.
  • Satellite communication systems have a longer propagation delay than ordinary terrestrial systems.
  • It is difficult to provide repair services if a satellite system malfunctions.
  • Frequency congestion is possible.

Wrapping Up

So, this was all you needed to know about satellite communication systems. Today, communication satellites are more important than ever as people are becoming more reliant on digital services.