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The humble microwave antenna is one of the most important pieces of modern technology, even though it rarely gets credit for that importance. They exist to transmit microwaves through the air so they can reach a receiver, which can translate those microwaves back into sounds and images. This is the technology that allows most television and communication networks to function. They are absolutely vital for modern society, and everything of such great importance deserves to be studied and understood.
What Are Microwaves?
A microwave is a type of electromagnetic wave that is vastly smaller than waves of other types. These waves can travel through the air, although since they lack the ability to diffract around obstacles or adapt to the planet’s curvature, their range is limited. They can also lose some quality in areas with an excess of obstructions. That is one of the primary reasons that communication systems rely on a network of towers and antennas. One broadcasts the initial signal, and the others pick it up and broadcast it again to make sure that it can travel as far as necessary. Satellites are especially useful for this, since they can broadcast to a huge number of receivers without worrying about obstructions.
How Do They Work?
Microwave antennas work as part of information transmission systems. The systems for doing so are complicated, but the process can generally be broken up into three distinct stages.
First, the information needs to be converted into a format that the antenna can transmit. Since they send microwaves, this means converting it into a specific wave, with the wave’s amplitude and frequency specifying the message. After that, the antenna will create that wave and broadcast it through the air, where it travels to reach a receiver. If the signal needs to cover a particularly long distance, the receiver may need to broadcast it again to make sure that it can reach the final destination. Many antennas are part of a system that allows them to both send and receive the waves, but this is not strictly necessary.
After the wave is transmitted to the receiver, it needs to be converted back into a form that humans can understand. The receiver system will do this automatically, and in doing so it will produce an image, an audio transmission, or almost any other type of information.
What Uses Them?
Microwave antennas are extremely common devices. Almost any system that needs to take information from one point to another specific point can use one, including radar systems, satellite communications, and even some astronomy research systems. Many of these systems can also use alternative forms of transmission, but microwaves remain superior in many circumstances, which is enough to ensure that they will remain in use for a long time to come.