Researchers at Pusan National University and the University of Alabama have developed a small, light, and low-cost deployable antenna for CubeSats that use state-of-the-art communications systems – such as 6G communications. Basing their work on origami theory, mechanical dynamics, and antenna array principles, the antenna can be reconfigured depending on the operational mode selected.
Antenna technology has been a limiting factor for next-generation telecommunications due to the need of miniaturizing antennas for nanosatellites without compromising on their cost or performance. For example, nanosatellites such as CubeSats can be as small as a 10 cm3cube, so a communication antenna small enough to be stored inside it during launch and flight is expensive and technologically challenging. This new antenna is only 32.5 mm3 when folded and weighs only 5 grams. It is constructed from an inexpensive material to make the bulk of the antenna, using special joints to fold the square boards into a cube, which can easily be stored within the microsatellite. Once in orbit it can be deployed and reconfigured outside of the CubeSat, in order to receive and transmit data.
“The volume, radiation patterns, and polarizations of the antenna are reconfigurable according to the required operation mode,” Dr. Sangkil Kim from Pusan National University in South Korea states.
It is expected that the new design will inspire future deployable designs for nanosatellite antenna technology, paving the way for next-generation communication systems. Their prototype will reduce the cost of future nanosatellites and improve their overall performance, and can also be scaled up to larger satellites in geostationary orbit and other communication platforms on Earth.