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So, how do you get live TV from the middle of the Amazon? There are no cables strung, so it’s not just as easy as plugging in a camera. And given the terrain and distances, there’s nowhere high enough to point an antenna directly toward a reception tower in Manaus—much less to anywhere in the United States!! To cover the distances involved, then, from the rugged area we’ll be working in, the only way to do it is via satellite.

But why satellites? For the answer, just remember the last time you stood on a high hill, or looked out a window of a tall building. From this high point, you could see much more of the surrounding area than you could when you were standing on the ground. Since the Earth’s surface is curved like a ball, the higher that you get, the farther you can see (but never around the back of the ball, right?). To get the best view possible, you have to get into orbit: you’ll have become a satellite of Earth! Communications equipment senses electromagnetic rays just as your eye does (though generally at different wavelengths) , and higher is also better for communications “views”, too. And so we put satellites for communications into orbit.

A satellite link of this type consists of three points: the remote site (e.g., the Amazon) to which you want to communicate; the local site, where you have convenient access into a communications infrastructure (e.g., the U.S. telephone network), and your audience; and the satellite itself.

Ann’s Journals Satellite TV 101    1     2     3     4