Considerations of VLBI transmitters on Galileo satellites
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2021
For directly linking the dynamical reference frame of satellite orbits to the quasi-inertial reference frame of extra-galactic radio sources, observations of satellites with the Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) technique are the only conceivable method. Hence, the satellite observations should be embedded in VLBI network sessions during which also natural radio sources are observed. For this reason, it would be most practical if the artificial signal generated at the satellite for VLBI observations covers the same frequency bands as regularly observed by VLBI radio telescopes and should have a similar flux density across the observed bandwidth as these natural sources. The use of satellites of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) such as the Galileo system is advisable because they are well monitored in terms of precise orbit determination and the altitude allows common visibilities of many VLBI telescopes. So far, signal generation on a GNSS satellite dedicated to VLBI observations has not been realized yet, partly because suitable signal generation equipment has not been considered in depth. In addition, many aspects, such as legal implications and technical complications, have not yet been addressed. In this publication, we compiled various aspects of generating an artificial VLBI signal on a GNSS satellite. We describe the legal and technical aspects of generating and emitting an artificial signal on a Galileo satellite suitable for VLBI observations including a design study for the necessary equipment on the satellite. Since geodetic VLBI is currently in a transition period from traditional observations at S and X band to the broadband VLBI Global Observing System (VGOS), the proposed equipment generates a signal suitable for both frequency setups. We have also considered the restrictions for installation on a satellite, such as power consumption, weight, and size. The equipment mainly consists of three devices: noise source, amplifier, and antenna. A diode is used as the noise source. This noise is amplified by a set of low noise amplifiers and then radiated by a spiral antenna. The diode and the amplifiers were chosen from the market, but the antenna was newly designed and simulated. The output signal of this chain was tested using a VLBI baseband data simulator, then correlated and fringe-fitted for validation. The instrumentation proposed here is easy to be constructed, but will still have to be tested in the laboratory together with the instruments on the actual satellite.
Artificial VLBI signal generation