Wideband SATCOM Model

Evaluation of Numerical Accuracy and Efficiency *

Authored by: Andrew J. Knisely , Andrew J. Terzuoli

Handbook of Scholarly Publications from the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), Volume 1, 2000–2020

Print publication date:  December  2022
Online publication date:  December  2022

Print ISBN: 9781032116679
eBook ISBN: 9781003220978
Adobe ISBN:


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The spectral method is typically applied as a simple and efficient method to solve the parabolic wave equation in phase screen scintillation models. The critical factors that can greatly affect the spectral method accuracy are the uniformity and smoothness of the input function. This chapter observes these effects on the accuracy of the finite difference and the spectral methods applied to a wideband SATCOM signal propagation model simulated in the ultra-high frequency (UHF) band. The finite difference method uses local pointwise approximations to calculate a derivative. The spectral method uses global trigonometric interpolants that achieve remarkable accuracy for continuously differentiable functions. The differences in accuracy are presented for a Gaussian lens and Kolmogorov phase screen. The results demonstrate loss of accuracy in each method when a phase screen is applied, despite the spectral method’s computational efficiency over the finite difference method. These results provide meaningful insights when discretizing an interior domain and solving the parabolic wave equation to obtain the amplitude and phase of a signal perturbation.

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