Novel High Gain Antennas for Emerging CubeSats: Characterization of Deployable Mesh Reflectors and Low-Profile, Metal-Only Stepped Reflectors

Speaker: Vignesh Manohar
Affiliation: Ph.D. Candidate

Abstract:  The advent of VLSI and microelectronics has made it possible to reduce the size of electronic devices by several orders of magnitude while increasing their functional capabilities, and reducing production costs. This massive scaling has enabled the development of satellites that can be as small as a cube of volume 10x10x10 cm3.  Such satellites, called ‘CubeSats’, have revolutionized the satellite industry today. This reduced volume makes launching CubeSats economically affordable, fostering the participation of small scale establishments and universities in space programs. The availability of a standardized launcher and commercial off-the-shelf components further aids rapid development times and collaboration amongst researchers worldwide. Owing to their small size, it is now possible to conceive launching multiple instances of the same CubeSat for advanced missions, which was not economically viable with conventional satellites. Even though numerous CubeSats have been launched, most of the current CubeSat missions operate at low data rates and low spatial resolution. One of the major reasons for this is the absence of compact high gain antennas that can integrate with the small CubeSat form factor while providing the required data rates for deep space missions or spatial resolution for remote sensing. This work addresses this very challenge by developing tools that can aid the integration of high gain antennas with the small CubeSat form factor. In particular, we include the following: (a) an in-depth understanding of umbrella reflector antennas with an emphasis on lower number of ribs to aid stowage; (b) analysis of complex knit mesh surfaces to understand the tradeoff between mesh density and RF transmission loss; (c) innovative feed designs that are optimized for efficient illumination of reflector antennas and minimum volume; (d) characterization of chassis interaction with the antenna system; and (e) development of a metal-only, low-profile, stepped parabolic reflector that can be 3D printed and readily integrated with the CubeSat chassis, simplifying deployment. As a part of this dissertation, we describe the development of one of the largest apertures at Ka-band: a 1m mesh-deployable offset reflector that can be stowed in a volume of 10x10x30 cm3.  The success of this endeavor marks a major milestone in the field of CubeSats, which allows advanced space missions at lower costs to become a reality.

Biography:  Vignesh Manohar is currently a PhD candidate in the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department at UCLA under Prof. Yahya Rahmat-Samii. He received his bachelors in electronics and telecommunication engineering in 2013 from University of Mumbai (India), where he was ranked first through all four years in his college. He received his M.S.in electrical engineering from UCLA in 2016, and was awarded the outstanding M.S. thesis award in the physical and wave electronics track. His current research interests include the development of novel high gain antenna concepts that can aid emerging CubeSat missions. He was awarded the Young Scientist Award from Electromagnetic Theory Symposium (EMTS) 2019, and honorable mentions in the 2017 and 2018 Altair FEKO student competition.

For more information, contact Prof. Yahya Rahmat-Samii ()

Date/Time:
Date(s) - Feb 26, 2020
10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Location:
E-IV Maxwell Room #57-124
420 Westwood Plaza - 5th Flr. , Los Angeles CA 90095