IEEE Open Journal of Antennas and Propagation (Jan 2022)

A Curved 3D-Printed S-Band Patch Antenna for Plastic CubeSat

  • Giacomo Muntoni,
  • Giorgio Montisci,
  • Andrea Melis,
  • Matteo Bruno Lodi,
  • Nicola Curreli,
  • Marco Simone,
  • Giacomo Tedeschi,
  • Alessandro Fanti,
  • Tonino Pisanu,
  • Ilka Kriegel,
  • Athanassia Athanassiou,
  • Giuseppe Mazzarella

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 3
pp. 1351 – 1363


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The new space economy paradigm demands for cost-effective systems for its development. Plastic CubeSats are appealing candidates. To enable the use of this new generation of space systems, the challenge of designing suitable communication sub-systems must be faced. In this work, a 3Dprinted ABS antenna easily embeddable in a plastic CubeSat is proposed. The 3D-printed material has been characterized in terms of dielectric, mechanical and thermal properties, and the compliance with space requirements has been assessed. In particular, thermogravimetric and calorimetric tests have been carried out. Static and dynamic mechanical analysis were performed. To comply with the stringent weight and space requirements, the unique antenna design of a curved stacked patch has been proposed. The patch covers the uplink (2.025–2.11 GHz) and downlink (2.2–2.29 GHz) bands for Telemetry Tracking and Command (TT&C) applications, with an overall bandwidth of about 300 MHz (14%). Additionally, taking advantage of the curved shape, the proposed antenna shows a size reduction of the resonant length of about 34%. The size of the antenna is $71.5 \times 71.5 \times 13$ mm3 and is characterized by a weight of only 51 g. Also, in silico tests, by relying on the measured physical properties and a non-linear numerical model, have been carried out to assess the performances of the final antenna layout during a typical CubeSat mission. The proposed design strategy could be used to develop plastic CubeSats embedding performing antennas.