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The focus of this paper is to characterize the effects of periodic and aperiodic surface distortions on the performance of membrane reflector antennas. Since the surface of this class of reflector antennas is very thin, it is susceptible to various types of periodic and aperiodic distortions. The particular antenna dimensions used for this study are similar to the specifications for the JPL/UCLA half scale model of second generation precipitation radar (PR-2) mission reflector. Analytical expressions are introduced to model periodic and aperiodic surfaces and based on these models the effects of distortions on the radiation performance of the antenna are simulated. Aperiodic distortions are more realistic cases of distortions due to the fact that the period of the distortions is not constant through out the reflector surface. For each case, far-field patterns of the reflector are simulated and it is shown that closed-form expressions can then be derived which result in a very efficient computational method to predict some of the unique features of these patterns including location and level of observed grating lobes. Furthermore, based on spatial Fourier analysis of the surface distortion, it is shown that deviation from periodicity in the distortions of reflector surface results in lowering these grating lobes. Parametric studies have been performed to provide design guidelines for acceptable surface behavior for large deployable membrane reflector antennas for future space borne missions.
Date of Publication: Sept. 2005