New! Sign up for our free email newsletter.
Science News
from research organizations

Space Test For Swiss-designed Solar Antennas

Date:
September 29, 2005
Source:
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Summary:
A satellite equipped with novel solar antennas developed by the EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne) will be part of the payload on the Russian rocket Cosmos, scheduled for launch September 30 from Plesetsk, Russia. This satellite incorporates advanced technology that combines antenna functions and solar cells on a single surface.
Share:
FULL STORY

A satellite equipped with novel solar antennas developed by the EPFL(Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne) will be part of the payloadon the Russian rocket Cosmos, scheduled for launch September 30 fromPlesetsk, Russia. This satellite incorporates advanced technology thatcombines antenna functions and solar cells on a single surface.

The rocket's payload will also include a satellite designed and builtby students from several European universities, including a group ofEPFL students.

Because of the enormous cost of getting to their destination,structures used in space applications have to be lighter, smaller, andmore reliable than their Earth-bound counterparts. In confronting thischallenge, the European Space Agency (ESA) drew upon the recognizedexpertise of the Electromagnetics and Acoustics Laboratory at the EPFLin Switzerland, asking them to develop a single surface that couldfunction as both antenna and solar cell array.

As EPFL professor Juan Mosig notes, "The planar antennas haveplenty of quiet real estate available for solar cells," and a combinedsurface is ideal as it results in a substantial efficiency gain andweight reduction for the satellite.

Advances in both solar cell and antenna technology have beenmade in the development of the antenna, nicknamed Asolant (AdvancedSOLar ANTenna). Six years after initiation, it's ready for its new lifein space. The structure is light and thin. It's strong and provides itsown source of energy. Its gallium arsenide solar cells are adapted tothe conditions of space. The antenna will communicate with Earth,sending and receiving GPS signals as well as signals from mobiletelephone networks such as Orbcomm.

The Zurich-based firm HTS handled the antennas' manufacture,and the structure will ride aboard a Rubin satellite, adapted to theElectromagnetics and Acoustics Lab's specifications by the Germancompany OHB Systems.

Earth-based solar antenna applications

Because Asolant is autonomous, providing its own power sourcewith the solar cells on its surface, it also has the potential for manyexceedingly practical Earth-based applications. Sheets of solarantennae on residential rooftops could simultaneously power the homeand send and receive TV, radio and wireless phone and internet signals.Buoy-based solar antennas could improve atmospheric and oceanicdata-gathering capabilities, providing better early-warning systems forhurricanes, tsunamis and other natural disasters. Solar antennas couldbe used in increasingly power-hungry cell phones. Information fromremote regions could be sent via autonomous transmitters.

The EPFL's Electromagnetics and Acoustics Lab has spun off aSwiss start-up company, JAST, that is in the process of studying themarket possibilities of these kinds of applications.

A student satellite

The Cosmos rocket will also launch a student satellite. ThisESA-sponsored project, carried out in the framework of the StudentSpace Exploration and Technology Initiative (SSETI), caught theattention of a small group of EPFL students. The electronics theydeveloped will contribute to the satellite's propulsion system,according to PhD student Renato Krpoun. After undergoing several testsin the first few months in orbit, the satellite will ultimatelyfunction as an amateur radio transponder.

###

On the web:
http://itopwww.epfl.ch/LEMA/Asolant/
http://www.jast.ch


Story Source:

Materials provided by Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Cite This Page:

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. "Space Test For Swiss-designed Solar Antennas." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 September 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050928082305.htm>.
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. (2005, September 29). Space Test For Swiss-designed Solar Antennas. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 21, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050928082305.htm
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. "Space Test For Swiss-designed Solar Antennas." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050928082305.htm (accessed May 21, 2024).

Explore More

from ScienceDaily

RELATED STORIES