The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and Spain, jointly with the International Astronomical Union (IAU) organized an online workshop on the topic of “Dark and Quiet Skies for Science and Society”. The online workshop presented initial findings from 5 working groups of the Scientific Organizing Committee (SOC), for discussion. Each day of the workshop focused on a different topic.
The working group on the protection of the radio astronomy service has developed a draft report that will be presented to the intergovernmental Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) for consideration. The report includes what measures are required to mitigate the negative impact of satellite constellations deployment. The Working group involved members from CRAF in addition to a wide range of radio astronomy groups representation from worldwide.
The link to the outcomes of the workshop can be found here: https://www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/psa/schedule/2020/2020_dark_skies.html
Supported by Germany, Finland, Spain, Switzerland, France, and Norway, CRAF submitted new questions to the ITU-R Working Party 7D of radio astronomy service for the recognition of the VLBI global Observing System (VGOS) services by ITU.
The global infrastructure of VGOS is composed of radio telescope network stations for Universal Time UT1 determinations for satellite operations, astronomical reference frame construction, and for monitoring of Global changes, such as polar motion, the length of the day and tectonic plate motions. As a new global infrastructure with currently no definition in ITU-R, there is a necessity to better understand and recognize the technical and operational characteristics of VGOS within ITU. VGOS makes passive use in four sub-bands of the spectrum in the range of 2-14 GHz to meet the targeted accuracy goals.
The lengthy process towards recognition was kicked off during the September 2020 meeting of WP 7D. Drafting work shall continue until the higher level meeting of the ITU-R Study Group 7 planned on Sep 2021.
The megaconstellation satellite operator SpaceX submitted a proposed update for the ECC report 271 during the ECC-SE40 webmeeting held on the period 23rd to 25th June, 2020. The first version of ECC report 271 on the compatibility and sharing studies of non-geostationary satellite systems operating in the bands 10.7 – 12.75 GHz (Space-to-Earth) and 14 – 14.5 GHz (Earth-to-Space) was previously concluded during early 2018. CRAF, representing the radio astronomy services (RAS) in Europe, have participated in the development of the first version for compatibility studies with the radio astronomy adjacent protected band 10.6 – 10.7 GHz, as well as for the secondary band 14.47 – 14.5 GHz.
The major update in the new version is the change of the altitude of the satellites to lower orbital levels. This should normally impact the coverage footprint of the satellite antenna beams and the power levels used. CRAF will be engaged in the review of the simulations provided by SpaceX to ensure the radio astronomy protection is achieved under the updated parameters.