Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Sub-THz signals’ propagation model in hypersonic plasma sheath under different atmospheric conditions


One of the aims for modern hypersonic cruise flight is hypersonic global reach. The length of route for such flights could be up to thousands of kilometers. The atmospheric conditions on the route are complicated. On the other hand, hypersonic flights used to suffer from communication blackout. The sub-THz communication is considered as a potential solution to the ‘blackout’. In the present study the propagation for sub-THz signals in hypersonic plasma sheaths was modeled under different atmospheric conditions. According to the study, the electron density and the electron collision frequency near the onboard antenna linearly increase with the atmospheric mass density around the vehicle, hence the attenuation of sub-THz signals in hypersonic plasma sheaths increases with the atmospheric mass density. The impact led by the atmospheric temperature is ignorable. Based on the study a new sub-THz signals’ propagation model was developed, which could be utilized for quick estimation for signal propagation under different atmospheric conditions. The geographical difference of signal propagation over the whole globe was obtained with the new model. The results showed that the signal attenuation in plasma sheaths varies with latitude and longitude. The maximum signal attenuation occurs in Alaska, Canada and Russia.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1

    Rybak J P, Churchill R J. Progress in reentry communications. IEEE Trans Aerosp Electron Syst, 1971, 7: 879–894

  2. 2

    Notake T, Saito T, Tatematsu Y, et al. Development of a novel high power sub-Thz second harmonic gyrotron. Phys Rev Lett, 2009, 103: 225002

  3. 3

    Koenig S, Lopez-Diaz D, Antes J, et al. Wireless sub-Thz communication system with high data rate. Nature Photon, 2013, 7: 977–981

  4. 4

    Zheng L, Zhao Q, Liu S, et al. Theoretical and experimental studies of 35 GHz and 96 GHz electromagnetic wave propagation in plasma. Prog Electromagn Res M, 2012, 24: 179–192

  5. 5

    Zheng L, Zhao Q, Liu S Z, et al. Theoretical and experimental studies of terahertz wave propagation in unmagnetized plasma. J Infrared Millim Terahertz Waves, 2014, 35: 187–197

  6. 6

    Li J, Pi Y, Yang X. A conception on the terahertz communication system for plasma sheath penetration. Wirel Commun Mobile Comput, 2015, 14: 1252–1258

  7. 7

    Tian Y, Han Y P, Ling Y J, et al. Propagation of terahertz electromagnetic wave in plasma with inhomogeneous collision frequency. Phys Plasmas, 2014, 21: 1768–1775

  8. 8

    Yuan C X, Zhou Z X, Zhang J W, et al. FDTD analysis of terahertz wave propagation in a high-temperature unmagnetized plasma slab. IEEE Trans Plasma Sci, 2011, 39: 1577–1584

  9. 9

    Chen J M, Yuan K, Shen L F, et al. Studies of terahertz wave propagation in realistic reentry plasma sheath. Prog Electromagn Res, 2016, 157: 21–29

  10. 10

    Meyer J W. System and Method for Reducing Plasma Induced Communication Disruption Utilizing Electrophilic Injectant and Sharp Reentry Vehicle Nose Shaping. US Patent, 2007, US7237752

  11. 11

    Jung M, Kihara H, Abe K I, et al. Numerical analysis on the effect of angle of attack on evaluating radio-frequency blackout in atmospheric reentry. J Korean Phys Soc, 2016, 68: 1295–1306

  12. 12

    Yuan K, Yao M, Shen L F, et al. Studies on the effect of angle of attack on the transmission of terahertz waves in reentry plasma sheaths. Prog Electromagn Res M, 2017, 54: 175–182

  13. 13

    Starkey R P. Hypersonic vehicle telemetry blackout analysis. J Spacecraft Rockets, 2015, 52: 426–438

  14. 14

    Kundrapu M, Loverich J, Beckwith K, et al. Modeling radio communication blackout and blackout mitigation in hypersonic vehicles. J Spacecraft Rockets, 2015, 52: 853–862

  15. 15

    Gupta R N, Yos J M, Thompson R A, et al. A review of reaction rates and thermodynamic and transport properties for an 11-species air model for chemical and thermal nonequilibrium calculations to 30000 K. Nasa Sti/recon Tech Rep N, 1990, 89: 32–34

  16. 16

    Liebe H J. Atmospheric ELF window transparencies near 35, 90, 140 and 220 GHz. IEEE Trans Antenn Propag, 1983, 31: 127–135

  17. 17

    Bachynski M, Johnston T, Shkarofsky I. Electromagnetic properties of high-temperature air. Proc IRE, 1960, 48: 347–356

  18. 18

    Jones W L, Cross A E. Electrostatic-Probe Measurements of Plasma Parameters for two Reentry Flight Experiments at 25000 Feet per Second. Technical Report NASA TN D-6617. 1972

Download references


This work was supported by Jiangxi Postdoctoral (Grant No. 2013KY43) and Natural Science Foundation of Jiangxi Province (Grant No. 20151BAB207004).

Author information

Correspondence to Xiaohua Deng.

Electronic supplementary material

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Yuan, K., Wang, Y., Shen, L. et al. Sub-THz signals’ propagation model in hypersonic plasma sheath under different atmospheric conditions. Sci. China Inf. Sci. 60, 113301 (2017).

Download citation


  • sub-THz communication
  • hypersonic cruise flight
  • communication blackout
  • plasma sheath
  • signal propagation model
  • signal attenuation