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What is satellite and antenna?

Jackie Dong


At the most basic level, a satellite could be a moon, planet or machine that orbits a planet or star. Our moon is a natural satellite.

The satellite in this artical refers to artificial satellites that being lauched by rockets and remain in space. “A satellite orbits Earth when its speed is balanced by the pull of the planet’s gravity. Without this balance, the satellite would fly in a straight line off into space or fall back to Earth.”

Some people characterize a satellite as an “antenna in space.” This is partly true–though we’d say it’s the base for clusters of antennas connected to equipment that processes their signals.

Communications satellites are in continuous geosynchronous orbit 23,000 miles above the Earth, all the while sending and receiving various types of information. “Geosynchronous” means they follow the earth’s orbit as if in a static position.


Antennas, along with transponders, are the key to satellite communicationsAntennas affixed to satellites are, by necessity, used for both receiving and sending signals.

Antennas on the satellite receive signals uplinked (transmitted) from various sources on Earth. The signals are then processed by a transponder and sent back to the earth station for redistribution.

Satellite Earth Station (Receiving Dish)

One major function of a satellite earth station (or ground station) is serving as a point-to-point means of communicating directly with a satellite. The other major function is transmitting information received from the satellite to other locations on earth.

Satellite Frequencies and Antenna Types

Satellite frequencies, which fall within the 1-75 GHz range of the electromagnetic spectrum, include the following bands:

  • L-band (1-2 GHz): GPS
  • C-band (4-8 GHz): full-time satellite TV networks or raw satellite feeds
  • X-band (8-12 GHz): primarily military uses
  • Ku-Band (12-18 GHz: satellite communications, especially direct-to-home (DTH) television, mobile telephony, data
  • Ka-band (26-40 GHz): satellite communications (including DTH television), mobile telephony, data, some military use
  • V-band (40-75 GHz)

There is a wide variety of satellite antenna types (sometimes custom-fabricated). The most common type, though is a parabolic reflector antenna (a paraboloid of revolution, to be more specific).

A horn antenna is used for full Earth coverage from a geostationary satellite. These have an unusual shape, which makes them recognizable when attached to satellites, Horn antennas are also used as feeds to augment the functioning of reflector antennas.


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