Antenna Designs for CubeSats: A Review

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IEEE Access


Cube Satellites, aka CubeSats, are a class of nano satellites that have gained popularity recently, especially for those that consider CubeSats as an emerging alternative to conventional satellites for space programs. This is because they are cost-effective, and they can be built using commercial off-the-shelf components. Moreover, CubeSats can communicate with each other in space and ground stations to carry out many functions such as remote sensing (e.g., land imaging, education), space research, wide area measurements and deep space communications. Consequently, communications between CubeSats and ground stations is critical. Any antenna design for a CubeSat needs to meet size and weight restrictions while yielding good antenna radiation performance. To date, a limited number of works have surveyed, compared and categorised the proposed antenna designs for CubeSats based on their operating frequency bands. To this end, this paper contributes to the literature by focusing on different antenna types with different operating frequency bands that are proposed for CubeSat applications. This paper reviews 48 antenna designs, which include 18 patch antennas, 5 slot antennas, 4 dipole and monopole antennas, 3 reflector antennas, 3 reflectarray antennas, 5 helical antennas, 2 metasurface antennas and 3 millimeter and sub-millimeter wave antennas. The current CubeSat antenna design challenges and design techniques to address these challenges are discussed. In addition, we classify these antennas according to their operating frequency bands, e.g., VHF, UHF, L, S, C, X, Ku, K/Ka, W and mm/sub-mm wave bands and provide an extensive qualitative comparison in terms of their size, -10 dB bandwidths, gains, reflection coefficients, and deployability. The suitability of different antenna types for different applications as well as the future trends for CubeSat antennas are also presented.

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