525.789 – Advanced Satellite Communications

This course covers advanced topics in satellite communications systems, including investigations of electromagnetics, quantum physics, relativity, orbital mechanics, information theory, and hardware design relevant to practical system design and analysis. Satellite and ground station antennae, including wire, helical, and loop antennae, parabolic dishes, and multiple spot beam phased arrays, are considered from first principles. Electromagnetic wave propagation models that include reflection, polarization, diffraction, refraction, and ionospheric effects are studied as functions of frequency, including at millimeter and x-ray wavelengths. Modulation, coding, multiplexing, channel capacity, filtering, noise, and error correction, for both analog and digital systems, are treated, enabling accurate analyses at higher frequencies for which convention models may fail. The effects of special and general relativity on Doppler shifts and on-orbit clock errors are introduced. Kepler’s laws are derived from first principles and used to build a simple, spreadsheet-based orbital mechanics propagator to model link budget and mission designs from low earth orbit to interplanetary space. Using GPS as a case study, it is shown how each of the above topics plays a critical role in the overall design of a complete satellite system. Course materials are augmented by in-class demonstrations, including component level designs to real-time observation of GPS and geostationary satellites using a portable satcom antenna.

Course prerequisite(s): 

525.616 Communication Systems Engineering and 525.640 Satellite Communications Systems. Students should have knowledge of material covered in 525.201 Circuits, Devices, and Fields and 525.202 Signals and Systems.

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