Atmospheric Effects on Millimeter and Sub-millimeter (THz) Satellite Communication Paths

Yael Balal, Yosef Pinhasi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Satellite communications require more bandwidth due to the necessity of increasing the capacity of communication channels and bandwidth to end-users. As a result, looking for new bands is required in the electromagnetic spectrum including millimeter and sub-millimeter wavelengths. Recent technological developments made the extremely high frequencies (EHF) above 30 GHz as a candidate for wireless applications such as the fifth generation (5G) of mobile communications, high resolution radars, and remote sensing. The EHF communication systems are becoming more and more commercial, cheap, and compact. However, the fact that the atmospheric medium is not completely transparent to millimeter waves requires considerations of the frequency selective absorption and dispersion effects emerging in this band. These phenomena affect also remote sensing in the millimeter and sub-millimeter waves (the terahertz frequencies). The atmospheric effects on the propagation of millimeter and sub-millimeter wave transmission from land to satellite are discussed. It is shown that not only atmospheric absorption plays a significant role on the received signal strength but also the refraction index of the atmospheric medium. The inhomogeneous refractivity causes the beam to “bend” along the propagation path, and it may even “miss” its destination. This phenomenon should be considered in the design of a link operating in extremely high frequencies involving highly directive antennas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-230
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Infrared, Millimeter, and Terahertz Waves
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • Millimeter wave propagation
  • Millimeter wave satellite communications
  • Terahertz waves


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