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Enhancing small satellite communication through effective antenna system design

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3 Author(s)
Muri, P. ; Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA ; Challa, O. ; McNair, J.

A Cube-Satellite (CubeSat) is a small satellite weighing no more than one kilogram. CubeSats are used for space research, but their low-rate communication capability limits functionality. As greater payload and instrumentation functions are sought, increased data rate is needed. Since most CubeSats currently transmit at a 437 MHz frequency, several directional antenna types were studied for a 2.45 GHz, larger bandwidth transmission. This higher frequency provides the bandwidth needed for increasing the data rate. A deployable antenna mechanism maybe needed because most directional antennas are bigger than the CubeSat size constraints. From the study, a deployable hemispherical helical antenna prototype was built. Transmission between two prototype antenna equipped transceivers at varying distances tested the helical performance. When comparing the prototype antenna's maximum transmission distance to the other commercial antennas, the prototype outperformed all commercial antennas, except the patch antenna. The root cause was due to the helical antenna's narrow beam width. Future work can be done in attaining a more accurate alignment with the satellite's directional antenna to downlink with a terrestrial ground station.

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Date of Conference:

Oct. 31 2010-Nov. 3 2010