Weather Forecasting for Ka-band Operations: Initial Study Results

Morabito, D., L. Wu, and S. Slobin (2016), Weather Forecasting for Ka-band Operations: Initial Study Results, IPN Progress Report, 42-206.

As lower frequency bands (e.g., 2.3 GHz and 8.4 GHz) have become oversubscribed during the past several decades, NASA has become interested in using higher frequency bands (e.g., 26 GHz and 32 GHz) for telemetry, thus making use of the available wider bandwidth. However, these bands are more susceptible to atmospheric degradation. Currently, flight projects tend to be conservative in preparing their communications links by using worst-case or conservative assumptions. Such assumptions result in nonoptimum data return. We explore the use of weather forecasting for Goldstone and Madrid for different weather condition scenarios to determine more optimal values of atmospheric attenuation and atmospheric noise temperature for use in telecommunication link design. We find that the use of weather forecasting can provide up to 2 dB or more of increased data return when more favorable conditions are forecast. Future plans involve further developing the technique for operational scenarios with interested flight projects.