Antenna Array Enabled Space/Air/Ground Communications and Networking for 6G

by   Zhenyu Xiao, et al.

Antenna arrays have a long history of more than 100 years and have evolved closely with the development of electronic and information technologies, playing an indispensable role in wireless communications and radar. With the rapid development of electronic and information technologies, the demand for all-time, all-domain, and full-space network services has exploded, and new communication requirements have been put forward on various space/air/ground platforms. To meet the ever increasing requirements of the future sixth generation (6G) wireless communications, such as high capacity, wide coverage, low latency, and strong robustness, it is promising to employ different types of antenna arrays with various beamforming technologies in space/air/ground communication networks, bringing in advantages such as considerable antenna gains, multiplexing gains, and diversity gains. However, enabling antenna array for space/air/ground communication networks poses specific, distinctive and tricky challenges, which has aroused extensive research attention. This paper aims to overview the field of antenna array enabled space/air/ground communications and networking. The technical potentials and challenges of antenna array enabled space/air/ground communications and networking are presented first. Subsequently, the antenna array structures and designs are discussed. We then discuss various emerging technologies facilitated by antenna arrays to meet the new communication requirements of space/air/ground communication systems. Enabled by these emerging technologies, the distinct characteristics, challenges, and solutions for space communications, airborne communications, and ground communications are reviewed. Finally, we present promising directions for future research in antenna array enabled space/air/ground communications and networking.


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