Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Combat Ops Space Cell: Defending critical satellite links

Combat Ops Space Cell: Defending critical satellite links: More than 22,000 miles away, spinning silently through the vacuum of space, is one of the most critical components to air, space and cyberspace superiority today; a satellite.
The mission to defend and protect the operability of that satellite rests a little closer to home, at the U.S. Air Forces Central Command Combined Air and Space Operations Center within the Combat Operations Division's Space Cell.
"We have five priority missions we support," said Capt. Brandon Davenport, the Space Cell chief. "Theater missile warning, personnel recovery support, satellite communications, GPS constellation health and modeling as well as battle space characterization."
One of the biggest threats to satellite communications and GPS missions is its vulnerability to electromagnetic interference, or EMI, which causes the signal to be "jammed."
Jamming, at its most basic level, is denying a satellite the ability to communicate by overwhelming it with energy where it would expect to see the friendly signal. This is basically like someone using a bullhorn to drown out someone else's conversation. This type of occurrence can be intentional, in which case it is considered hostile, or accidental. The most common causes of accidental EMI are easily found and remedied. Hostile jamming, however, can require a more creative solution.