Inflatable antenna could give CubeSats greater reach

MIT report researchers led by Alessandra Babuscia have developed a new design of antenna for small satellites known as CubeSats

Due the their small size CubeSats have been restricted to small monopole or dipole antennas.

Such low gain omni-directional antennas have restricted CubeSats to Low Earth Orbits (LEO) using lower data rates than would be possible with a large dish antenna.

The MIT team, led by Alessandra Babuscia, is part of the research group of radio amateur Professor Sara Seager KB1WTW and also includes graduate students Mary Knapp KB1WUA, Benjamin Corbin, and Mark Van de Loo from MIT, and Rebecca Jensen-Clem from the California Institute of Technology.

The new inflatable antenna developed by Alessandra Babuscia and her team may significantly increase the communication range of these small satellites, enabling them to travel much farther in the solar system: The team has built and tested an inflatable antenna that can fold into a compact space and inflate when in orbit.

It is claimed the distance that can be covered by a satellite with an inflatable antenna is seven times farther than that of existing CubeSat communications.

“With this antenna you could transmit from the moon, and even farther than that,” says Alessandra Babuscia, who led the research as a postdoc at MIT. “This antenna is one of the cheapest and most economical solutions to the problem of communications.”

Read the full story -