Year

2020

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Electrical, Computer and Telecommunications Engineering

Abstract

CubeSats are a class of miniaturized satellites that have become increasingly popular in academia and with hobbyists because they have a short development time and low cost. Their compact size, lightweight characteristics, and ability to form a swarm enable them to communicate directly with one another to inspire new ideas on space exploration, space-based measurements and the latest technology implementation. These research missions require desirable antenna designs in order to achieve optimal performance. Over the past two decades, many antenna designs have been proposed and implemented on CubeSat missions. Challenges arise when designing antennas that need a high gain to communicate in a very short contact period. 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 dynamic radiation patterns.

This thesis provides a comprehensive survey of CubeSat antennas used in CubeSat missions and of a collection of single element antennas and antenna arrays that have been proposed in the literature. Tutorials on single element antennas, antenna arrays are developed and recommendations for future antenna designs are made. Importantly, a pictorial representation of how to select an antenna for different types of CubeSat missions is proposed. To this end, this thesis serves both as an introductory guide on CubeSats antennas for CubeSat enthusiasts and about state-of-the-art CubeSat antennas for designers in this ever-growing field. However, through the review of the existing antenna designs for CubeSat, it is found that most single-element antenna designs perform on lower frequency and need to be large to achieve high gains, which introduce deployment mechanisms. Besides, they are not able to achieve adjustable characteristic and dual-band performance. While antenna arrays are more flexible in terms of steerability, they are usually large and need complex deployment mechanisms and introduce higher risk of mission failure.

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Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.