The Q-band of the microwave part of the electromagnetic spectrum could potentially be used for higher capacity satellite communication systems. Unfortunately, these higher frequency waves are susceptible to breaking up during inclement weather. Researchers from Heriot-Watt University in Scotland are now working together with a team from NASA to investigate whether Q-band communications can withstand atmospheric fluctuations. They have installed a satellite terminal to collect transmissions from a geostationary satellite to measure how the atmosphere disturbs signals transmitted from space.
Using the Q-band frequency for a wide-range of communications will rely on continuous and reliable availability. However the Q-band is a higher frequency than those currently in commercial use and that makes it more susceptible to breaking up due to weather conditions or similar. That’s why it is likely that multiple locations are needed to ensure a continuous ‘gateway’ for transmission.
The experiment will help uncover whether the Q-band can be reliable enough for commercialization by telecommunications companies in the near future. It will also explore ways to mitigate any problems caused by adverse weather. The high frequencies could facilitate high bandwidth satellite links that would be especially useful for communication on planes, trains, and other fast-moving vehicles—as long as engineers can develop ways to ensure reliable connections.