Project/blog link:Poof: Optimizing Antenna Inflation Times BASIS Advisor: Mr. Paul McClernon Internship location: ASU, SpaceTREx Lab Onsite Mentor: Dr. Jekan Thangavelautham, Assistant Professor, Head of SpaceTREx Laboratory
University research into space is often expensive. Academia has taken steps to make university research into space more affordable and scalable. An example of this is the development of the CubeSat initiative, which is a specification for satellites that have a size that is a multiple of 10×10×11.35 cm cubic units, fulfilling all of its mission purposes with its small form factor. With smaller and cheaper satellites, one important question to ask is: how can we communicate with these satellites and still maintain the compact form factor? The answer lies in inflatable antenna. Inflatable antenna must be able to conform to the satellite dimensions when deployed and still inflate to a size and shape that will yield adequate signal gain. By the tenets of antenna dishes, the larger the size, the better the signal gain. However, while the size of a deployed antenna is important, the shape of the dish must come as close as possible to parabolic in order to focus the greatest percentage of gathered signal. In my project, I will create an apparatus that can measure an inflatable’s deviation from its ideal parabolic shape, and subsequently test the antennae with novel apparatus.