Expanding human presence in space, and enabling the commercialization of this frontier, is part of the strategic goals for NASA's Human Exploration and Development of Space (HEDS) enterprise. Future near-Earth and planetary missions will support the use of high-frequency Earth-space communication systems. Additionally, increased commercial demand on low-frequency Earth-space links in the S- and C-band spectra have led to increased interest in the use of higher frequencies in regions like Ku and Ka-band. Attenuation of high-frequency signals, due to a precipitating medium, can be quite severe and can cause considerable disruptions in a communications link that traverses such a medium. Previously, ground radar measurements were made along the Earth-space path and compared to satellite beacon data that was transmitted to a ground station. In this paper, quantitative estimation of the attenuation along the propagation path is made via inter-comparisons of radar data taken from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Precipitation Radar (PR) and ground-based polarimetric radar observations. Theoretical relationships between the expected specific attenuation (k) of spaceborne measurements with ground-based measurements of reflectivity (Zh) and differential propagation phase shift (Kdp) are developed for various hydrometeors that could be present along the propagation path, which are used to estimate the two-way path-integrated attenuation (PIA) on the PR return echo. Resolution volume matching and alignment of the radar systems is performed, and a direct comparison of PR return echo with ground radar attenuation estimates is made directly on a beam-by-beam basis. The technique is validated using data collected from the TExas and Florida UNderflights (TEFLUN-B) experiment and the TRMM large Biosphere-Atmosphere experiment in Amazonia (LBA) campaign. Attenuation estimation derived from this method can be used for strategiC planning of communication systems for future HEDS missions.
Space Communications, Spacecraft Communications, Command and Tracking
Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Science Conference; 22-26 Jul. 2002; Honolulu, HI; United States