Macquarie-designed antennas shine in space
A twin-array antenna system designed by Engineering’s Professor Karu Esselle and his team, has been launched into space aboard the world’s first entirely Ka-band CubeSat satellite Audacy Zero.
Audacy Zero was deployed on 3 December last year, from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
Capitalising on the larger bandwidth available in the higher frequency Ka-band, the antenna system solves the problem of the limited data rates of lower frequency bands which are commonly used in conventional CubeSats. It thereby enables high-speed data communication between the satellite and Earth.
The industry collaboration came about after a senior Audacy engineer attended Karu’s 2017 IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society Distinguished Lecture at the Texas Instruments headquarters in Silicon Valley, USA. Audacy is a spin off company from Stanford University.
“We believe this is the first Australian-designed antenna system deployed in space since CSIRO-designed antenna systems in the Australian FedSat satellite launched in 2002,” says Karu.
Audacy Zero is a demonstration satellite, testing the technology for the space relay network Audacy is planning to develop in 2020. It aims to provide continuous connectivity to commercial and other CubeSats.
Without such a network, a CubeSat can be seen from a fixed ground station only for a few minutes per day and that is often not enough to download all the data collected by the CubeSat.
As a result of the collaboration, Macquarie University has signed a partnership agreement to become part of the Audacy Alliance, a consortium of industry-leading spacecraft product and technology providers that aim towards an open global standard for spacecraft communication.
Photo of Karu Esselle and his team of researchers holding a component of an antenna system.
Published 6 March 2019.