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Spectrum Management for Science in the 21st Century
concerning the use of the spectrum are codified in Title 47 of the Code of FederalRegulations (47 C.F.R.).
The radio astronomy community is represented in this process as the “Radio Astronomy Service,” and the Earth remote sensing community is represented in this process as the “Earth Exploration-Satellite Service.” A useful synopsis of 47 C.F.R. in terms relevant to the RAS and EESS, including tables of relevant spectral allocations, is given in the Handbook.2 For example, this reference text shows that 2.07 percent of the spectrum below 3 GHz is allocated to the RAS and EESS on a primary basis and that 4.08 percent is allocated on a secondary basis (measured in hertz).
From a regulatory perspective, the RAS and EESS are comparable to all other services, despite the fact that that they do not transmit. Thus, the allocation of spectrum to the RAS and EESS on a primary basis results nominally (but not actually—see below) in clear spectrum. The allocation of spectrum to the RAS and EESS on a secondary basis is useful mainly in the sense that it offers these services a legal basis for providing input into the use of these allocations. It should also be noted that the allocation of a frequency band to the RAS and/or EESS does not prevent interference even if the allocation is on a primary basis. This is because the effective bandwidth of any transmission is essentially unlimited when observed with a sufficiently sensitive instrument. So, for example, the far out-of-band (side-band) emission of a transmission whose center frequency is properly in a band in which it has a primary allocation may, at some level, appear in nearby bands in which the RAS and/or EESS has a primary allocation. This has historically been a severe problem, particularly with respect to interference from services transmitting from satellites in L-band. (See §3.5 for a discussion of radio frequency interference [RFI] from Iridium satellites.) In contrast to active uses of the spectrum, the work of RAS and EESS users can be severely affected when the interference power level is far below the internal noise power level of the detection device, since long integration times are usually used in RAS and EESS measurements to reduce the root-mean-square fluctuations in the internal noise. Thus, this issue affects the RAS and EESS in a way that is fundamentally different from the way that it affects active users of the radio spectrum.
The spectrum in which the RAS and/or EESS has a primary or secondary allocation is relatively small (see Table 4.1). The spectrum in which the RAS and/or EESS has a secondary allocation has diminished usefulness, since there is no protection from the primary users of these bands. As noted in Chapters 2 and 3, the spectrum requirements of the radio astronomy and Earth exploration radio science community currently far exceed the spectrum available to the RAS and EESS on
National Research Council, Handbook of Frequency Allocations and Spectrum Protection for ScientificUses, Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press, 2007.