Antenna Nulling and Adaptive Filtering

Satellites can be designed with antennas that “null” or minimize signals from a particular geographic region on the surface of the Earth or locations in space where jamming is detected. Nulling is useful when jamming is from a limited number of detectable locations, but one of the downsides is that it can also block transmissions from friendly users that fall within the nulled area. If a jammer is sufficiently close to friendly forces, the nulling antenna may not be able to block the jammer without also blocking legitimate users. Adaptive filtering, in contrast, is used to block specific frequency bands regardless of where these transmissions originate. Adaptive filtering is useful when jamming is consistently within a particular range of frequencies because these frequencies can be filtered out of the signal received on the satellite while transmissions can continue around them. However, a wideband jammer could interfere with a large enough portion of the spectrum being used that filtering out the jammed frequencies would degrade overall system performance.


Best Segment for Countermeasure Deployment

  • Space Segment

NIST Rev5 Controls


ISO 27001

ID: CM0083
D3FEND Artifacts:  Hardware | Hardware Driver
Created: 2023/04/22
Last Modified: 2023/04/22

Techniques Addressed by Countermeasure

ID Name Description
IA-0005 Rendezvous & Proximity Operations Threat actors may perform a space rendezvous which is a set of orbital maneuvers during which a spacecraft arrives at the same orbit and approach to a very close distance (e.g. within visual contact or close proximity) to a target spacecraft.
.02 Docked Vehicle / OSAM Threat actors may leverage docking vehicles to laterally move into a target spacecraft. If information is known on docking plans, a threat actor may target vehicles on the ground or in space to deploy malware to laterally move or execute malware on the target spacecraft via the docking interface.
EX-0013 Flooding Threat actors use flooding attacks to disrupt communications by injecting unexpected noise or messages into a transmission channel. There are several types of attacks that are consistent with this method of exploitation, and they can produce various outcomes. Although, the most prominent of the impacts are denial of service or data corruption. Several elements of the space vehicle may be targeted by jamming and flooding attacks, and depending on the time of the attack, it can have devastating results to the availability of the system.
.01 Valid Commands Threat actors may utilize valid commanding as a mechanism for flooding as the processing of these valid commands could expend valuable resources like processing power and battery usage. Flooding the spacecraft bus, sub-systems or link layer with valid commands can create temporary denial of service conditions for the space vehicle while the spacecraft is consumed with processing these valid commands.
.02 Erroneous Input Threat actors inject noise/data/signals into the target channel so that legitimate messages cannot be correctly processed due to impacts to integrity or availability. Additionally, while this technique does not utilize system-relevant signals/commands/information, the target spacecraft may still consume valuable computing resources to process and discard the signal.
EX-0016 Jamming Threat actors may attempt to jam Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) signals (i.e. GPS, Galileo, etc.) to inhibit a spacecraft's position, navigation, and/or timing functions.
.03 Position, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) Threat actors may attempt to jam Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) signals (i.e. GPS, Galileo, etc.) to inhibit a spacecraft's position, navigation, and/or timing functions.
.01 Uplink Jamming An uplink jammer is used to interfere with signals going up to a satellite by creating enough noise that the satellite cannot distinguish between the real signal and the noise. Uplink jamming of the control link, for example, can prevent satellite operators from sending commands to a satellite. However, because the uplink jammer must be within the field of view of the antenna on the satellite receiving the command link, the jammer must be physically located within the vicinity of the command station on the ground.* *
.02 Downlink Jamming Downlink jammers target the users of a satellite by creating noise in the same frequency as the downlink signal from the satellite. A downlink jammer only needs to be as powerful as the signal being received on the ground and must be within the field of view of the receiving terminal’s antenna. This limits the number of users that can be affected by a single jammer. Since many ground terminals use directional antennas pointed at the sky, a downlink jammer typically needs to be located above the terminal it is attempting to jam. This limitation can be overcome by employing a downlink jammer on an air or space-based platform, which positions the jammer between the terminal and the satellite. This also allows the jammer to cover a wider area and potentially affect more users. Ground terminals with omnidirectional antennas, such as many GPS receivers, have a wider field of view and thus are more susceptible to downlink jamming from different angles on the ground.* *
EX-0017 Kinetic Physical Attack Kinetic physical attacks attempt to damage or destroy space- or land-based space assets. They typically are organized into three categories: direct-ascent, co-orbital, and ground station attacks [beyond the focus of SPARTA at this time]. The nature of these attacks makes them easier to attribute and allow for better confirmation of success on the part of the attacker.* *
.02 Co-Orbital ASAT Co-orbital ASAT attacks are when another satellite in orbit is used to attack. The attacking satellite is first placed into orbit, then later maneuvered into an intercepting orbit. This form of attack requires a sophisticated on-board guidance system to successfully steer into the path of another satellite. A co-orbital attack can be a simple space mine with a small explosive that follows the orbital path of the targeted satellite and detonates when within range. Another co-orbital attack strategy is using a kinetic-kill vehicle (KKV), which is any object that can be collided into a target satellite.* *

Space Threats Addressed by Countermeasure

ID Description
SV-AC-2 Replay of recorded authentic communications traffic at a later time with the hope that the authorized communications will provide data or some other system reaction  
SV-IT-1 Communications system spoofing resulting in denial of service and loss of availability and data integrity  
SV-AV-1 Communications system jamming resulting in denial of service and loss of availability and data integrity