A method of predicting attenuation on microwave Earth/ spacecraft comm- unication links, over wide areas and under various atmospheric conditions, has been developed. In the area around the ground station locations, a nearly horizontally aimed polarimetric S-band ground radar measures the specific differential phase (Kdp) along the Earthspace path. The specific attenuation along a path of interest is then computed by use of a theoretical model of the relationship between the measured S-band specific differential phase and the specific attenuation at the frequency to be used on the communication link. The model includes effects of rain, wet ice, and other forms of precipitation. The attenuation on the path of interest is then computed by integrating the specific attenuation over the length of the path. This method can be used to determine statistics of signal degradation on Earth/spacecraft communication links. It can also be used to obtain real-time estimates of attenuation along multiple Earth/spacecraft links that are parts of a communication network operating within the radar coverage area, thereby enabling better management of the network through appropriate dynamic routing along the best combination of links.

This work was done by Steven M. Bolen and Andrew L. Benjamin of Johnson Space Center and V. Chandrasekar of Colorado State University.