A Survey on CubeSat Missions and Their Antenna Designs

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Electronics (Switzerland)


CubeSats are a class of miniaturized satellites that have become increasingly popular in academia and among hobbyists due to their short development time and low fabrication cost. Their compact size, lightweight characteristics, and ability to form a swarm enables them to communicate directly with one another to inspire new ideas on space exploration, space-based measurements, and implementation of the latest technology. CubeSat missions require specific antenna designs in order to achieve optimal performance and ensure mission success. Over the past two decades, a plethora of antenna designs have been proposed and implemented on CubeSat missions. Several challenges arise when designing CubeSat antennas such as gain, polarization, frequency selection, pointing accuracy, coverage, and deployment mechanisms. While these challenges are strongly related to the restrictions posed by the CubeSat standards, recently, researchers have turned their attention from the reliable and proven whip antenna to more sophisticated antenna designs such as antenna arrays to allow for higher gain and reconfigurable and steerable radiation patterns. This paper provides a comprehensive survey of the antennas used in 120 CubeSat missions from 2003 to 2022 as well as a collection of single-element antennas and antenna arrays that have been proposed in the literature. In addition, we propose a pictorial representation of how to select an antenna for different types of CubeSat missions. To this end, this paper aims is to serve both as an introductory guide on CubeSats antennas for CubeSat enthusiasts and a state of the art for CubeSat designers in this ever-growing field.

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