Many small satellites may sooner or later do the identical – or higher – job as their single large equal. With that method in thoughts, this high-frequency steerable antenna has been designed to hyperlink collectively orbital chains of shoebox-sized CubeSats.
CubeSats are mini-satellites constructed up from standardised 10 cm packing containers, initially developed for instructional makes use of however more and more discovering operational makes use of, resembling constellations for telecommunications or Earth remark.
“The thought behind this mission was to develop a steerable reflector antenna that’s sufficiently small to suit inside half of a single CubeSat unit,” explains ESA antenna engineer Maarten van der Vorst.
“Stowed inside the unit for launch, the antenna would then be deployed, then capable of facilitate inter-satellite hyperlinks between a constellation of CubeSats, as an example permitting particular person satellites to swap information, or for one CubeSat ‘mothership’ to carry out information downlink and uplink duties for the remaining. With one antenna at the back and front of every satellite tv for pc to transmit messages by way of a complete CubeSat chain, with our testing reveals the antennas may function throughout lots of of kilometres of distance.”
This demonstrator antenna, which was constructed utilizing hybrid manufacturing methods – combining conventional machining with selective laser melting 3D printing – has been designed to function at 60 GHz, providing excessive bandwidth regardless of its small dimension.
The mission was led for ESA by PicoSats in Italy with ESTECO and the College of Trieste offering technical electromagnetic experience and the antenna’s pointing mechanism respectively. It was supported by way of ESA’s Superior Analysis in Telecommunications Methods Superior Expertise, ARTES-AT.