Macquarie-designed antennas shine in space

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.

Antenna research group

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.

Find out more about Audacy Zero.

Photo of Karu Esselle and his team of researchers holding a component of an antenna system.

Published 6 March 2019.

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