Ionspheric Measurement, Modelling and Simulation for Future Wideband UHF

Project: Research council


Society is increasingly dependent on communications (both person-to-person and machine-to-machine). Where terrestrial infrastructure is under-developed, satellite communication (satcom) is often used for point-to-point communications and networked backhaul. Reliable and robust communications underpin many of the technological developments that are transforming the economic landscape and wider society in the UK. Space technology and applications (including satcom) has been identified as one of Britain's eight "Great Technologies" and the UK has expressed the ambition of capturing 10% of the global space market by 2030. This proposal spans the EPSRC RF and Microwaves Communications and Digital Signal Processing research areas of the ICT Theme. It is relevant to the Aerospace, Defence and Marine Industrial Sector and the Electronics, Communications and IT Industrial Sector. The choice of satcom radio frequency is dependent on various factors, but ultra-high frequency (UHF) is popular because of the low cost of the user terminals, its capability to operate with small and portable antennas, and its resilience to shadowing by objects and foliage. UHF satcom continues to provide an important part of the MOD communications infrastructure. Wideband UHF satcom will also play a key role in future machine-to-machine (M2M) communications systems. This will be especially true for systems in remote areas where terrestrial networks may not be available and for systems requiring high levels of resilience. M2M communications is one of the enablers for the development of the Internet of Things (IoT) that has been identified as one of the most important technologies that will emerge over the next decade and will drive economic and social progress. The data communications capacity of contemporary UHF satcom is low and is limited by the simple waveforms employed. Greater data capacity is required and may be provided by new, multi-carrier wideband waveforms. However, the design and optimisation of such waveforms will require realistic satcom channel emulation. Provision of such channel emulation is hindered by our poor understanding of the distorting effects of the Earth's ionosphere (an ionized region of the upper atmosphere). Such ionospheric distortions are prevalent at high and particularly at low latitudes due to ionospheric irregularities which cause rapid changes in a signal delay, phase and amplitude. We aim to undertake the first systematic, long-term study of the impact of the ionosphere on the wideband (5 MHz) ultra-high frequency (UHF) satcom radio channel. The research programme will undertake measurements (using the upcoming COSMIC-2 UHF wideband channel probe) and modeling to understand the ionospheric impact. The final stage of the programme will be the development of a UHF satcom waveform simulator to help modem designers. This national resource will transform the current capability and allow the UK to take a lead in the design of wideband UHF satcom waveforms.
Effective start/end date1/01/1731/12/20


Communication satellites
Radio communication
Upper atmosphere
Digital signal processing
Communication systems
Electronic equipment
Earth (planet)