ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Satellite Communications Standards Aid Public Health Research

New York, Jan 25, 2008

For the past fifty years, satellite technology has facilitated advancements in meteorology, communications, navigation, and military applications. Cutting edge research indicates that satellites may now also help in protecting public health through remote sensing, the science of capturing information about the Earth from sensors on satellites. Satellite images and data about land, water, air quality, heat indexes, temperature, humidity, and other environmental elements can provide information useful across diverse medical applications.

Scientists at the Laboratory for Global Health Observation (LGHO), a new partnership between NASA’s National Space Science and Technology Center (NASA/NSSTC) and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), have discovered that the same remote sensing technology used for weather prediction can also be used to fight malaria and asthma, detect the West Nile virus, and identify links between the environment and cardiovascular diseases.

Types of Satellites

There are over 2,000 satellites that currently circle the Earth. Satellites are categorized by their function:

  • Communication satellites handle hundreds of millions of voice, data, and video transmission tasks across all continents between fixed points on the Earth’s surface.

  • Navigation satellite systems help connect remote regions, vehicles, ships and aircraft to other parts of the world and serve as navigation systems such as global positioning systems (GPS).

  • Scientific research or Earth observation satellites provide meteorological information, land survey data (i.e. remote sensing), and other different scientific research applications such as earth science, marine science, and atmospheric research.

  • Astronomical satellites are used for observation of distant planets, galaxies, and other outer space objects.

  • Bio-satellites are satellites designed to carry living organisms, generally for scientific experimentation.

  • Reconnaissance satellites are deployed for military or intelligence applications.

  • Rescue satellites respond to radio distress signals.

The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), organizational members and accredited standards developers of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), have developed satellite communication standards that make LGHO’s public health project and other new applications for satellite data possible.

Satellites use three types of platforms to transmit images and data: Internet Protocol Over Satellite (IPoS); Data-Over-Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS); and Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB).

The DOCSIS platform is the technology that enables high-speed transmission for cable television. SCTE 22-1 2002R2007, Data-Over-Cable Service Interface Specification DOCSIS 1.0 Radio Frequency Interface (RFI), defines the radio-frequency interface specifications for high-speed transmission of data-over-cable systems.

Internet access technology is utilized in TIA 1008, IP Over Satellite (IPoS)(2003), a standard which contains the procedures used by remote terminals and the hub for delivery of traditional internet protocol through the star satellite access network.

DVB uses satellites for the transmission of internet, audio, video and data services. A European norm developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), ETSI EN 300 421-v1.1.2-1997-08, Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) - Framing structure, channel coding and modulation for 11/12 GHz satellite services, specifies a system for satellite digital multi-programming that allows the use of transmission capacity for a variety of service configurations.

These are just a few of the communication technology standards that have helped to harness the power of satellite imagery. Further efforts to develop satellite technology and remote sensing research may not only foster public health but may also have the potential to revolutionize the fields of archaeology, social science, and engineering.