Thomas Oswald Aerospace Software

Software and research for aerospace applications

Antennas and wave propagation

The electromagnetic force is one of the four basic forces of our universe. Its mastering is the basis of many achievements of modern engineering. From computers to antennas, from remote sensing to our many multimedia gadgets, almost everything which makes our modern world involves electromagnetic phenomena. 

There are two fundamental theories describing all electromagnetic phenomena, classical electrodynamics and quantum electrodynamics. While quantum electrodynamics is necessary to deal with many microscopic systems like atoms, most engineering applications can be modeled by the equations of the classical theory. i.e. Maxwell's equations.

Maxwell's equations

Maxwell's equations

Unfortunately this system of partial differential equations can be solved analytically only for the geometrically most simple systems. In most of the cases relevant for practical applications, one has to resort to numerical methods. Fortunately there exists a proven uniqueness theorem which states that any solution which can be found to such a system is the solution of the system, irrespective of the method by which it was found. 

The most important property regarding the usefulness, is the wave phenomena. Maxwell's equations can be combined in a way to form wave equations. The solution to these wave equation is an electromagnetic wave in vacuum (in certain forms of matter, also electrostatic waves can exist) which has the ability to transmit energy and information. Electric and magnetic fields are creating each other in a self-consisting way. 

wave equations

Wave equations

radiation pattern of a dipole

Radiation pattern of a dipole

Electromagnetic waves can be transmitted and received by using antennas. How well this works depends how well the antenna is designed for the specific radiation, i.e. its frequency and radiation pattern. Antenna design is science, as well as art. Often numerical methods are used to simulate and study the antenna behavior.

Radiation can also be produced by natural physical processes in space plasma. This kind of radiation can be received and analyzed by using antennas. From the properties of the radiation, one can deduce the physics by which the radiation was produced. The science of studying such phenomena is called radio astronomy. Radio astronomy is not only performed by professionals of numerous universities and space agencies , but also by amateur radio astronomers.

Radio transmission is the second large application of radio science. As in the case of radio astronomy, there are amateur radio operators.


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