Radio Spectrum Inventory: A 2010 Snapshot — Canada

Chapter 8–Space Science Services (EESS, SRS, MetSat, SOS, MetAids, RAS)

8.3 Spectrum Inventory Analysis

Unlike other services for which spectrum allocation is based on the most suitable propagation characteristics, spectrum allocation for space science services (except space operations) is more limited to the physical phenomenon of atmospheric gases, water, cosmic rays, etc. As a result, radio spectrum for space science applications appears almost everywhere in the entire radio spectrum.

In order to arrange the data in a presentable format, the results are grouped by major services in space science. Figure 8.2, which shows the utilization of spectrum sharing between space science services and other radio services compared to 1998 level, shows where the challenges are for space science.

8.3.1 Major users

The radio spectrum in space science services is used by the following groups of agencies or institutes:

  1. Canadian Space Agency (CSA)
  2. Canadian Centre for Remote Sensing (CCRS)
  3. Environment Canada (EC)
  4. Natural Resource Canada (NRCAN)
  5. National Research Council Canada (NRC), including Radio Astronomy
  6. Canadian Universities

In these groups of users, the CSA, EC and NRC are the major users of spectrum allocated for space science services. NRC uses mostly the passive bands for continuum and spectral line observations. The CSA is the major player in the EESS (Radarsat 1 and 2). EC uses data from foreign satellites in the EESS.

8.3.2 Number of assignments and geographic information

The data available for compiling the statistics from the Assignment and Licensing System (ALS) is mixed with radio services other than space science services and is only available from 50 GHz. Due to this limitation, the results as shown in the figures may contain other services sharing the same frequency band. Effort has been taken to isolate space science services from the available data wherever possible. It should be noted that the receive-only earth stations in the passive services are not required to obtain a radio licence. Therefore, these stations, especially in the radio astronomy service, may not be registered in the ALS system.

Most of the frequencies are assigned for GOES (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) and POES (Polar Operational Environmental Satellite) downlinks and uplinks. The assignments are mostly distributed in the Pacific and Prairies and Northwest Territories regions. Also, NRC operates an observatory in British Columbia for continuum/spectral lines and solar radio flux observations. The general distribution of frequency assignments for space science applications is shown in Figure 8.1. Note that "National" region includes assignments for all of Canada, more than one province, but not all Canada, and space station assignments. This designation applies to all figures regarding regional distribution.

8.4 Spectrum Trends in Space Science

The following figures demonstrate the trend in licensing radio spectrum for space science applications for the past 12 years. As previously stated, the limitation in available data may affect the accuracy of the result, as other radio services sharing the same frequency bands cannot be isolated from the data. Note that the spectrum trend data is only available from 50 GHz to 40 GHz.

8.4.1 Space Science in general

As can be seen in Figure 8.2, the most significant challenge for space science services sharing with other radio services appears in the frequency range 13.4-14.5  GHz, in which the major utilization for space science is continuum observations. Also there is significant increase in assignments for the lower part of the UHF frequencies, where the major applications for space science are GOES and POES downlinks/uplinks.

8.4.2 EESS

For spectrum sharing between EESS and other radio services, the trend chart (Figure 8.3a) shows that the spectrum utilization has been increasing since 1998. The major users for EESS applications are CSA for the Radarsat Program and DND (see Figure 8.3b).

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8.4.3 Space Research Service (SRS)

For space research service, the use of spectrum sharing with other radio services has been increasing in the past 12 years (see Figure 8.4a). The CSA is the only user for this application at the 2 GHz band. Currently, there are four frequency assignments (see Figure 8.4b). EC uses data from foreign satellites, which utilize frequency bands for SRS.

8.4.4 MetSat

The use of spectrum shared by the meteorological satellite service has seen significant increase in the past four years (see Figure 8.5a). EC is the major user for this application for GOES and POES downlinks/uplinks in the band 400.15-402 MHz. Most of the frequency assignments are found in western Canada (see Figure 8.5b).

8.4.5 MetAids

The utilization of spectrum shared with MetAids has increased significantly since 1998 level (see Figure 8.6a). DND and EC are the major users of MetAids. Most of the assignments are allocated in western Canada (see Figure 8.6b).

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8.4.6 Space Operation

For spectrum sharing between space operation and other radio services, the number of frequency assignments has been steadily increasing (see Figure 8.7a). The CSA is the major user for this type of application at 2025-2110 MHz and 2200-2290 MHz for telecommand and tracking, with eight frequency assignments (see Figure 8.7b). The University of Toronto is also operating an earth station at 2200-2290 MHz to support the operation of the CanX-2 satellite.

8.4.7 Radio Astronomy

For spectrum sharing between radio astronomy and other radio services, the trend chart (Figure 8.8a) shows that the spectrum utilization has rebounded since 2004. The major user of radio astronomy applications is NRC, with one observatory (Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory – DRAO) in British Columbia (see Figure 8.8b). The ALS data shows that most of the frequency assignments are use at this location. This is also the only observatory in Canada that performs solar radio flux observation at 2750-2800 MHz.

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