Date of Award:

11-5-2012

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Advisor/Chair:

Reyhan Baktur

Abstract

The basic cube satellite (CubeSat) is a modern small satellite that has a standard size of about one liter (the 1U CubeSat). Three 1U CubeSats could be stacked to form a 3U CubeSat. Their low-cost, short development time, and ease of deployment make CubeSats popular for space research, geographical information gathering, and communication applications. An antenna is a key part of the CubeSat communication subsystem. Traditionally, antennas used on CubeSats are wrapped-up wire dipole antennas, which are deployed after satellite launch. Another antenna type used on CubeSats is the patch antenna. In addition to their low gain and efficiency, deployable dipole antennas may also fail to deploy on satellite launch. On the other hand, a solid patch antenna will compete for space with solar cells when placed on a CubeSat face, interfering with satellite power generation. Slot antennas are promising alternatives to dipole and patch antennas on CubeSats. When excited, a thin slot aperture etched on a conductive sheet (ground plane) is an efficient bidirectional radiator. This open slot antenna can be backed by a reflector or cavity for unidirectional radiation, and solar cells can be placed in spaces on the ground plane not occupied by the slot. The large surface areas of 3U CubeSats can be exploited for a multifunctional antenna by integrating multiple thin slot radiators, which are backed by a thin cavity on the CubeSat surfaces. Solar cells can then be integrated on the antenna surface. Polarization diversity and frequency diversity improve the overall performance of a communication system. Having a single radiating structure that could provide these diversities is desired. It has been demonstrated that when a probe excites a square cavity with two unequal length crossed-slots, the differential radiation from the two slots combines in the far-field to yield circular polarization. In addition, it has been shown that two equal-length proximal slots, when both fed with a stripline, resonate at a frequency due to their original lengths, and also resonate at a lower frequency due to mutual coupling between the slots, leading to a dual-band operation. The multifunctional antenna designs presented are harmonizations and extensions of these two independent works. In the multifunctional antenna designs presented, multiple slots were etched on a 83 mm x 340 mm two-layer shallow cavity. The slots were laid out on the cavity such when the cavity was excited by a probe at a particular point, the differential radiation from the slots would combine in the far-field to yield Left-Handed Circular Polarization (LHCP). Furthermore, when the cavity was excited by another probe at an opposite point, the slots would produce Right-Handed Circular Polarization (RHCP). In addition, as forethought, these slots were laid out on the cavity such that some slots were close together enough to give Linearly Polarized (LP) dual-band operation when fed with a stripline. This antenna was designed and optimized via computer simulations, fabricated using Printed Circuit Board (PCB) technology, and characterized using a Vector Network Analyzer (VNA) and NSI Far Field Systems.

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