CRAF Newsletter 2002/2

December 2002

The European Science Foundation (ESF) acts as a catalyst for the development of science by bringing together leading scientists and funding agencies to debate, plan and implement pan-European scientific and science policy initiatives.
The ESF is the association of its 70 major national funding agencies devoted to scientific research in 27 countries. The ESF brings European scientists together to work on topics of common concern, to coordinate the use of expensive facilities, and to discover and define new endeavors that will benefit from a co-operative approach.
The ESF represents all scientific disciplines: the natural sciences, the medical and biosciences, the humanities and the social sciences.
The ESF links scholarship and research supported by its Members and adds value by cooperation and coordination across national frontiers. Through its function as coordinator, and also by holding workshops and conferences and by enabling researchers to visit and study in laboratories throughout Europe, the ESF works for the advancement of European science.

On behalf of European radio astronomers, the ESF Committee on Radio Astronomy Frequencies, CRAF, coordinates activities to keep the frequency bands used by radio astronomers free from interference.


1. Chairman's corner

The radio astronomy community is busy building and planning a number of giant new generation radio telescopes (ALMA, LOFAR and SKA), whose sensitivity will surpass that of existing instruments by several orders of magnitude. During the URSI General Assembly earlier this year a Resolution was adopted on the establishment of ``International Radio Quiet Reserves'' aimed at protecting the sites of these future instruments (see elsewhere in this Newsletter). CRAF supports this laudable initiative and will participate in the world-wide efforts that need to be made towards their definition and establishment.

Wim van Driel - Paris Observatory

2. Report of 35th CRAF meeting [10-11 October 2002]

The 35th CRAF meeting was held on 10-11 October 2002 at the Osservatorio Astronomico di Cagliari, Italy.

Key items discussed were:
- Broadcasting-Satellite in the band 620-790 MHz: France (Astrium) proposed a project for satellite broadcasting in the band 620 to 790 MHz. This led to great concern in other CEPT Administrations. CRAF was informed by Astrium about its plans. CRAF also expressed its concerns, in particular concerning the protection of radio astronomy in the band 608-614 MHz (adjacent band emission from BSS) and 1330-1427 MHz (second harmonic of BSS signal). Astrium said at the WG FM meeting that until now it had not done any compatibility study.
- Revision of Stockholm 1961 – RRC-04/05: The ITU-R is planning a Regional Radiocommunication Conference for Region 1 (i.e. European Broadcasting Area) in 2004 or 2005 to revise the Stockholm agreement of 1961, RRC-04/05. This RRC does not have the mandate to deal with the allocation scenarios of other radiocommunication services, e.g. radio astronomy, but attention to the band 608-614 MHz is urgently needed.
- Power Line Transmissions, PLT: CRAF expressed to some Administrations its concerns about the developments of the draft ECC Report on PLT below 30 MHz, especially the possible threat that the most vulnerable services will not be adequately protected. Close attention to further developments remains necessary to guarantee adequate protection of the (potential) victim services.
- Global Transmission System Experiment on the International Space Station, GTS: CRAF continued to consult with some CEPT Administrations on this matter. It turns out that the system is of Russian origin and built in Germany. Further discussions with the Russians are necessary to find a solution for the intended use of the frequency of 1428 MHz by the system (which is in conflict with the ITU Radio Regulations).
- The progress of SE24 on the Ultra Wide Band and 24 GHz Short Range Radar issues are monitored with great attention and concern by CRAF. CRAF participates actively in the studies within CEPT on these issues.
- GONETS: Following CRAF’s request, CEPT studied the compatibility between the Russian GONETS system in the band 387-390 MHz (space-to-Earth) and radio astronomy service in the band 406.1-410 MHz. Although it was concluded that radio astronomy is adequately protected, CRAF considers that proper attention to Europe-wide coordination remains necessary because of the altitude of the space system (1400 km).
- CRAF participates actively in CEPT discussions on common European positions on WRC-03 agenda items relevant for radio astronomy.
- The CRAF database facilities for interference and spectrum occupancy reports from observatories are operational now and data from observatories in the CRAF format for these databases are happily awaited by the CRAF clearing house.

3. Global Transmission System experiment - position of ESA

In response to the article in the CRAF Newsletter 2002/1 expressing CRAF's concerns regarding interference in the 1400-1427 MHz band (the 21cm HI line band) from the Global Transmission System experiment on board the International Space Station, CRAF received a request from the ESA Frequency Management Office to publish the following statement to clarify ESA's position:

The statement ESA made is as follows:

``ESA has no direct involvement in the operations of GTS. The erroneous impression that ESA was in charge of the GTS experiment may have been created by numerous publications about GTS on ESA websites.

The principal responsibilities for implementing the GTS experiment on the Russian segment of the ISS are as follows:

(a) The GTS flight hardware has been developed - using non-ESA funds - by the Steinbeiss Transferzentrum Raumfahrt, Stuttgart.
(b) ESA has only funded the flight opportunity (i.e. integration) for GTS on the Russian Segment of the ISS.
(c) The two GTS transmission frequencies (400.1 MHz and 1,428 GHz) have been assigned by the Russian Authorities in July 1998.
(d) The Russian Authorities are in charge to operate the GTS onboard the ISS.
(e) The experiment user is the Steinbeiss Transferzentrum Raumfahrt, Stuttgart.

As confirmation of the above points:

  • The GTS Protocol between RSC Energia and ESA (July 1998) states that: ``it will be necessary to obtain approval by Russian authorities of the frequencies used for the GTS radio link. RSC Energia and the Russian Space Agency will take over the responsibility to obtain this approval. RSC Energia will subsequently coordinate the frequency allocation for the GTS with NASA.''

  • In response to a request for clarification by ESA staff, RSC Energia sent a memo, which states that: `the State Radio Frequency Board of the Russian Federation has no objection against utilization of the specified frequency bands for GTS (400.1 MHz, 1428 MHz and 1430 MHz) on the Service Module.' The memo also clarifies that the Russian Administration was aware of the non-compliance with the Allocation Table in the Radio Regulations and they intended to allocate (sic!) those frequencies according to Article 4.4'.

  • The NASA ISS Frequency Baseline shows that the GTS frequencies were agreed at ISS coordination level and that the GTS was correctly classified as a Russian/German experiment (not ESA).

    Consequently ESA cannot take any responsibility for interference caused to the Radioastronomy community as result of the frequency choice in non-compliance with the ITU Radio Regulations by the Russian authorities. It is suggested that official regulatory complaints, in accordance with Article 4.4 and Article 15, be addressed to the Russian Administration rather than to ESA or ESA administrations.''

    4. Revision of Stockholm 1961

    ITU-R Region 1 is currently making preparations for an ITU-R Regional Radiocommunication Conference, RRC, presumably to be held in 2004/2005. This RRC-04/05 will revise the Stockholm 1961 agreement on the channel arrangements for the broadcasting service. ITU-R installed a new Task Group, TG6/8, to prepare a report for the conference (due in 9 months).

    CRAF has some concern about the developments w.r.t. the Stockholm channel 38, i.e. the frequency band 608-614 MHz which has a secondary status in Region 1. The RRC, however, does not have the mandate to considered secondary services nor to change the provisions for these services, e.g. for radio astronomy.

    In the case of radio astronomy, footnote 5.149 applies which states that ``administrations are urged to take all practicable steps to protect radio astronomy ...''. Furthermore, footnotes 5.305 and 5.306 apply to Region 1. 5.305 states that in China radio astronomy has a primary allocation in the band 608-614 MHz. 5.306 states that ``in Region 1, except in the African Broadcasting Area (see Nos. 5.10 to 5.13), and in Region 3, the band 608 - 614 MHz is also allocated to the radio astronomy service on a secondary basis''. This implies that administrations of those countries that want to protect radio astronomy, take into account the interests of radio astronomy. These countries need to coordinate with the countries involved and press the point that the broadcasting requirements for the conference and the DVB-T stations that are currently planned under the Chester agreement. Sharing criteria etc. are extensively documented in CEPT.

    CRAF will pay further attention to the allocation status of radio astronomy in the band 608-614 MHz and to the progress of ITU-R TG6/8. CRAF will also participate in the related CEPT work when required and its CRAF members will contribute to the related discussions in ITU-R WP7D.

    5. Broadcasting satellite at ~700 MHz

    In the CEPT WG FM meeting held in Warsaw during 16-20 September 2002, France (Astrium) proposed a project for satellite broadcasting in the band 620 to 790 MHz. The system will use High Elliptical Orbit, HEO, stations. The report from WG FM reads as follows on this matter:

    `A number of Administrations expressed concern about the protection of current and future services operating in this band, including analogue television, DVB-T and SAB/SAP. The French Administration assured the meeting that the implementation of the system would have no impact on the RRC04/05.'

    WG FM noted also the concerns expressed by FM PT 24 (Broadcasting issues) and the reference made by FM PT 24 to the preliminary CEPT position with regard to WRC-03 agenda item 1.37 (to consider the regulatory and technical provisions for satellite networks using highly elliptical orbits):
    `Europe supports the adoption of appropriate technical criteria and associated regulatory provisions wherever required to insure the protection of terrestrial services from HEOs in particular in the following bands: 620 – 790 MHz, Associated studies should continue and be completed in time before WRC-03.'

    It seems until now that the plans for satellite broadcasting in 620 – 790 MHz are not widely supported because of the impact it may have on terrestrial services, i.e. broadcasting and radio astronomy. WG SE will be asked to carry out sharing studies to show the impact on radio services operating in the frequency range 620 – 790 MHz including analogue television, DVB-T and SAB/SAP.

    Recently, CRAF was informed directly by Astrium about the plans for a broadcasting-satellite application in the 620-790 MHz band. CRAF has much concern on the protection of radio astronomy in the band 608-614 MHz (adjacent band emission from BSS), and 1330-1400 MHz and 1400-1427 MHz (second harmonic of the BSS signal). Astrium requested from CRAF an opinion on the compatibility of the system with radio astronomy: due to lack of technical information, no opinion could be given yet. Until today, no compatibility study on the impact of the proposed system and other services or applications has been undertaken.

    CRAF participates in the discussions in WG SE PT27 on this matter. It referred to Recommendation ITU-R RA.769 for the protection criteria for radio astronomy. However, until now neither CRAF nor the CEPT has experience with a compatibility study in which a system in HEO orbits is included. CRAF will address this specific aspect in SE27 and request confirmation that radio astronomy in the mentioned frequency bands is well protected.

    CRAF will follow the developments with great care.

    6. URSI Resolution on "International Radio Quiet Reserves"

    The International Union of Radio Science, URSI, held its 27th General Assembly from August 17-24, 2002, in Maastricht, the Netherlands.

    In view of the development of a new generation of radio astronomy telescopes that will need adequate protection from interference, and in order to enable further development of radio astronomy, URSI adopted a Resolution on ``International Radio Quiet Reserves'', which reads as follows:

    ``The URSI Council,

    Considering that:

    a. to explore the far reaches of the Universe, a limited number of very large, extremely sensitive radio telescopes is being planned for construction in the coming 10 - 20 years;
    b. because the spectral features of distant sources are shifted in frequency by the universal cosmic expansion to well outside the frequency bands allocated to the Radio Astronomy Service, these new radio telescopes will need to operate across a wide range of spectrum;
    c. such telescopes will therefore be extremely vulnerable to interference from emissions from space stations, especially those using non-geostationary satellites;
    d. the current Radio Regulations make no provision for protecting radio astronomical observation outside the designated frequency bands;
    e. developing such protection will involve cross-sectoral issues in the areas of global telecommunications, international trade, regulation of radio spectrum utilization, as well as scientific research, which issues taken together lie outside the competency of any single existing regulatory body;
    f. the inter-governmental Global Science Forum of the OECD has therefore sponsored a Task Force on Radio Astronomy and the Radio Spectrum, which has brought together international experts drawn from the telecommunications satellite industry, the radio spectrum regulatory community, and the radio astronomical research community, to consider whether this diversity interests might be reconciled;
    g. said Task Force has made proposals to this end, including a proposal for a small number of internationally recognized radio quiet reserves in which the planned new radio telescopes might be located;
    h. although designation of such reserves is not within the established procedures of the ITU, that body currently provides the most appropriate forum in which to consider the possibility;

    Recommends that:

    1. the draft agenda of the WRC-2006 include the following item: ``To consider the possibility of creating one or more internationally recognized radio quiet reserves, and take appropriate action.''
    2. the ITU-R undertake the necessary preparatory studies, possibly soliciting input from the Scientific Committee on Telecommunications of URSI, the Commission on Frequency Allocations for Radio Astronomy and Space Science (IUCAF) of ICSU, and other bodies of experts as appropriate.''

    CRAF considers that a proper regulation of international radio quiet reserves is required to enable further development of radio astronomy, for which a wide access to the radio frequency spectrum for observations with very high sensitivity is needed. CRAF is also of the opinion that these new giant instruments will not simply supersede the existing facilities, and that therefore the establishment of a limited number of such Reserves does not replace, or diminish, the need for the continued adequate protection of the numerous smaller-sized radio telescopes in operation.

    7. Protection of Radio Astronomy in the band 42.5-43.5 GHz

    WRC-03 Agenda item 1.32 is one of the most complex on the agenda for the forthcoming WRC-03. Briefly the item is

    "to consider technical and regulatory provisions concerning the band 37.5-43.5 GHz, in accordance with Resolutions 128 (Rev.WRC-2000) and 84 (WRC-2000)."

    There are strong forces at work here, involving three satellite services (fixed, broadcasting and mobile), both GSO and non-GSO, together with the fixed services and radio astronomy. In particular, the fixed satellite service has more than 250 filings with the ITU to operate systems in the band 41.5-42.5 GHz, which became a worldwide FSS allocation at WRC-2000. The adjacent band 42.5-43.5 GHz has been allocated to the radio astronomy service since 1979, and contains spectral lines of silicon monoxide (SiO) which are often seen as intense cosmic masers.

    Resolution 128 (Rev.WRC-2000) covers 'Protection of the Radio Astronomy Service in the 42.5-43.5 GHz Band.' WRC-2000 forsaw difficulties in the FSS allocation and added Footnote 5.551G placing provisional limits on the aggregate power flux density produced by NGSO satellite networks or GSO space stations into the radio astronomy band 42.5-43.5 GHz. Resolution 128 called on ITU-R to study these limits and to identify technical and operational measures which could be implemented by the two services to reduce the level of unwanted emissions into the radio astronomy band, and/or the susceptibility of radio telescopes to this form of interference.

    The ITU-R has studied the issue from both sides, in Working Parties 4A (fixed satellite) and 7D (radio astronomy), but has not reached consensus. The state of play is reported in the recently published CPM text, which was produced by WP4A. The good news is that VLBI observations can be protected without unduly constraining the FSS. The bad news is that single telescope observations, both line and continuum, cannot be adequately protected by measures that the FSS considers practicable.

    The CPM text now offers proposals to weaken Footnote 5.551G in several respects. Instead of protecting all radio telescopes it is proposed to protect only those notified to ITU-R by the close of WRC-03. Instead of protecting against FSS in the band 41.5-42.5 GHz it is proposed to protect only against FSS in the band 42.0-42.5 GHz. Instead of protecting observations at all elevation angles it is proposed to protect only observations above 5 o elevation, unless the radio observatory notifies ITU otherwise. Instead of protecting against GSO satellites all the time it is proposed to protect against them for 98% of the time. Some administrations are even considering whether to protect spectral line observations in the whole radio astronomy band 42.5-43.5 GHz, or only part of it.

    Reading all this it seems that the future development of the radio astronomy service in the band 42.5-43.5 GHz where it has a primary allocation is to be constrained by the introduction of FSS systems which have no allocation at these frequencies.

    The FSS community are used to negotiating tough deals with each other, involving give and take over the shared use of common frequency bands. It seems that the same mentality has been carried over into discussions of adjacent frequency bands. But the radio astronomy and fixed satellite services are neighbours in the radio spectrum, not cohabiting in the same frequency bands. Radio astronomy does not have any concessions to make, other than sacrificing the use of its frequency bands. It would be a travesty of the ITU system if WRC-03 were to sanction such a sacrifice of all or part of the radio astronomy band 42.5-43.5 GHz.

    Jim Cohen

    Jodrell Bank Observatory

    8. Abbreviations used in this Newsletter

    ALMA = Atacama Large Millimetre Array
    BSS = Broadcasting-Satellite Service
    CEPT = Conference of European Post and Telecommunication administrations
    CPM = Conference Preparatory Meeting (ITU)
    CRAF = Committee on Radio Astronomy Frequencies (ESF)
    DVB-T = Digital Video Broadcasting - Terrestrial
    ECC = Electronic Communications Committee (CEPT)
    ESA = European Space Agency
    ESF = European Science Foundation
    FM = Frequency Management (WG FM of CEPT)
    GSO = Geostationary Orbit
    GTS = Global Transmission System Experiment
    HEO = High Elliptical Orbit
    HI = neutral atomic hydrogen (spectroscopic notation)
    ICSU = International Council for Scientific Unions (UNESCO)
    ISS = International Space Station
    ITU = International Telecommunication Union
    ITU-R = International Telecommunication Union - Radiocommunication Sector
    IUCAF = Scientific Committee on the Allocation of Frequencies for Radio Astronomy and Space Science (UNESCO)
    LOFAR = Low Frequency Array
    NASA = National Aeronautics and Space Administration (USA)
    NGSO = Non-GSO
    OECD = Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
    PLT = Power Line Transmission
    PT = Project Team (CEPT)
    RRC = Regional Radiocommunication Conference (ITU-R)
    SAB = Services Ancillary to Broadcasting
    SAP = Services Ancillary to Programme making
    SE = Spectrum Engineering (WG SE of CEPT)
    SKA = Square Kilometre Array
    TG = Task Group (ITU)
    URSI = International Union of Radio Science
    UWB = Ultra-Wide Band
    WG = Working Group
    WP = Working Party (ITU)
    WRC = World Radiocommunication Conference (ITU-R)
    WRC-03 = WRC 2003


    Editorial Group: R.J.Cohen, P. Scott, W.van Driel