Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Reyhan Baktur


Reyhan Baktur


Todd Moon


Charles M. Swenson


This thesis work presents an innovative solution for small satellite antennas by integrating slot antennas and solar cells on the same panel to save small satellite surface real estate and to replace deployed wire antennas for certain operational frequencies. The two main advantages of the proposed antenna are: 1) the antenna does not require an expensive deployment mechanism that is required by dipole antennas; 2) the antenna does not occupy as much valuable surface real estate as patch antennas. The antenna design is based on using the spacing between the solar cells to etch slots in these spaces to create radiating elements. The initial feasibility study shows it is realistic to design cavit-backed slot antennas directly on a solar panel of a cube satellite. Due to the volume of the satellite, it is convenient to design antennas at S band or higher frequencies. Although it is possible to design integrated solar panel antennas in lower frequencies, such research is not the scope of this thesis work. In order to demonstrate and validate the design method, three fully integrated solar panel antennas were prototyped using Printed Circuit Board (PCB) technology (PCB is a common solar panel material for small satellites). The first prototype is a circularly polarized antenna. The second is a linearly polarized two-element antenna array. The third prototype is a dual band linearly polarized antenna array. Measured results agree well with simulations performed using Ansoft's High Frequency Structure Simulater (HFSS). The thesis also presents a feasibility study of optimization methods and reconfigurable solar panel antenna arrays. The optimization study explores methods to use genetic algorithms to find optimal antenna geometry and location. The reconfigurable study focuses on achieving different antenna patterns by switching on and off the slot elements placed around the solar cells on solar panels of a cube satellite. It is shown that the proposed integrated solar panel antenna is a robust and cost-effective antenna solution for small satellites. It is also shown that given a solar panel with reasonable size, one can easily achieve multiple antenna patterns and polarization by simple switching.




This work made publicly available electronically on September 1, 2010.