Electrical Design and Testing of an Uplink Antenna for Nanosatellite Applications


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Virginia Tech


Virginia Tech, Utah State University, and the University of Washington were teamed to form the Ionospheric Observation Nanosat Formation to investigate formation-flying requirements for multiple spacecraft missions. A communication subsystem for the mission will comprise an uplink, downlink and a satellite-to-satellite crosslink.

A linearly polarized resonant loop antenna mounted above the bottom surface of the spacecraft was selected for a possible satellite uplink receive antenna. The resonant loop was chosen to satisfy the physical requirements of the spacecraft whild still achieving efficient operation for a UHF signal.

A full-scale prototype was fabricated to measure frequency dependent characteristics of the antenna. A gamma match and a quarter-wave sleeve balun transformer were integrated to the system to minimize the power reflected at the antenna input and to isolate the antenna from the feed line.

The uplink antenna demonstrated sufficient performance; however, the final bandwidth of less than one percent will require additional tuning as other subsystems are integrated into the final flight-ready prototype.



uplink antenna, nanosatellite, UHF