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All-in-one, 3D-printed space antenna – Phys.org – Phys.Org

by • March 15, 2016 • No Comments

All-in-one, 3D-printed space antenna Credit: ESA–G. Porter A prototype 3D-printed antenna being put to work in ESA’s Small Antenna Test Facility, a shielded chamber for antenna and radio-frequency testing. “This is the Agency’s initially 3D-printed dual-reflector antenna,” explains engineer Maarten van der Vorst, who created it.
“Incorporating a corrugated feedhorn and two reflectors, it has been printed all-in-one in a polymer, and so plated with copper to meet its radio-frequency (RF) performance requirements.
“Designed for future mega-constellation tiny satellite platforms, it may require additional qualification to manufacture it suitable for real space missions, but at this stage we’re many interested in the effects on RF performance of the affordable 3D-printing process.”
“Although the surface finish is rougher than for a traditionally manufactured antenna, we’re quite pleased with the resulting performance,” says antenna test engineer Luis Rolo.
“We have a quite great agreement between the measurements and the simulations. Making a simulation based on a deplete 3D version of the leads to a worthwhile increase in its accuracy.
“By via this same version to 3D print it in a single piece, any source of assembly misalignments and errors are removed, allowing such great results.”
Two various antennas were generated by Swiss company SWISSto12, employing a special copper-plating technique to coat the hard shapes.
“As a future step, we aim at additional hard geometries and target higher frequencies,” adds Maarten, a member of ESA’s Electromagnetics & Space Environment Division. “And some day we want to create space-qualified RF components for planet Earth observation and science instruments.”
Based at ESA’s ESTEC technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, the test range is isolated of outside electromagnetic radiation while its within walls are covered with ‘anechoic’ foam to absorb radio signals, simulating unlimited space.
The range is part of ESA’s suite of antenna testing facilities, meant for tinyer antennas and subsystems, with larger antennas and entire satellites put to the in its ‘big brother’, the Hertz chamber.
Explore additional:Zone of silence: Testing satellite antennas
Provided by:European Space Agencysearch and additional infowebsite

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