• Opportunity and challenge—The receive-only services can sometimes take advantage of uncongested spectra not allocated to them. Increasing congestion may deny this capability in the future.

By its very nature, research uncovers new and often unexpected pathways for studying our terrestrial environment and the universe. It is important to recognize that the passive services are always “starved” for sensitivity.1 The signal-to-noise ratio is limited only by the sensitivity of the receiving instruments and the noise in the environment; passive services do not have the option of increasing the “signal” from the source. If the instruments are to achieve their theoretical limit, the environment must not be contaminated.

This handbook contains practical information regarding the use of the radio spectrum for scientific research. In Chapter 1, the regulatory bodies and issues are described. Chapter 2 discusses the relevant scientific background necessary to an understanding of the issues with spectrum management. Chapter 3 lists the science service spectrum allocations in the United States and their uses. Chapter 4 discusses issues related to spectrum protection.

In addition, the report has a number of appendixes. Appendix A offers National Telecommunications and Information Administration definitions concerning interference. Appendix B provides examples of footnotes to science services allocations. Appendix C lists important International Astronomical Union (IAU) spectral lines below 300 GHz. Appendix D lists important IAU spectral lines above 300 GHz. Appendix E presents selected Federal Communications Commission rules and regulations. Appendix F lists International Telecommunciation Union recommendations pertaining to radio astronomy, space applications, and meteorology. Appendix G lists Earth science passive sensor needs above 71 GHz. Appendix H examines the use of 0 dBi for sidelobe gain in calculations of interference in radio astronomy. Appendix I lists selected acronyms from the text.


The passive services are those for which the signal is produced by nature and the applications are receive-only.

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