Local Oscillator Distribution Using a Geostationary Satellite
A satellite communication system suitable for distribution of local oscillator reference signals for a widely spaced microwave array has been developed and tested experimentally. The system uses a round-trip correction method to remove effects of atmospheric fluctuations and radial motion of the satellite. This experiment was carried out using Telstar-5, a commercial Ku-band geostationary satellite. A typical Ku-band satellite has uplink and downlink capacity at 14– 14.5 GHz and 11.7–12.2 GHz, respectively. For this initial experiment, both earth stations were located at the same site to facilitate direct comparison of the received signals. The local oscillator reference frequency was chosen to be 300 MHz and was sent as the difference between two Ku-band tones. The residual error after applying the round trip correction has been measured to be better than 3 ps for integration times ranging from 1 to 2000 s. For integration times greater than 500 s, the system outperforms a pair of hydrogen masers with the limitation believed to be ground-based equipment phase stability. The idea of distributing local oscillators using a geostationary satellite is not new; several researchers experimented with this technique in the eighties, but the achieved accuracywas 3 to 100 times worse than the present results. Since then, the cost of both leased satellite bandwidth and the Ku-band ground equipment has dropped substantially and the performance of various components has improved. An important factor is the availability of narrow bands which can be leased on a communications satellite. We lease three 100 kHz bands at approximately one hundredth the cost of a full 36 MHz-wide transponder. Further tests of the system using terminals separated by large distances and comparison tests with two hydrogen masers and radio interferometry of astronomical objects are needed.
Keywordshydrogen maser LO distribution local oscillator two-way satellite time transfer TWTT TWSTT
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