A closer look at applying ESTEAM to CubeSat design

Manufacturers of the next generation of CubeSats may want to look towards ESTEAM, when modelling their antennas.


Induced currents by an L-band patch antenna on the 3U CubeSat with the ADS-B helix antenna and four UHF dipoles, analysed using ESTEAMs higher-order MoM/MLFMM.

Recently, we used our antenna placement and scattering software, ESTEAM, to model a 3 U CubeSat and a 6 U CubeSat inspired by ESA’s and GomSpace’s design of the GOMX-3 satellite as well as NASA JPL’s RainCube.

The full-wave analyses were performed with the higher-order MoM/MLFMM algorithm on the antennas themselves and when installed on the CubeSat.

When RF performance of the antennas installed on the CubeSat was compared with that in the absence of the platform, we found that the installed performance of the electrically small antennas changes substantially.

The results showed that the 3 U CubeSat, four UHF dipoles and a helix antenna for ADS-B reception strongly influenced the radiation pattern of an L-band patch antenna.

On the 6 U CubeSat, the lateral side of the satellite and the solar panels influenced the pattern of an S-band patch antenna, while the pattern of a reflector antenna was not affected by them due to their location behind the reflector.

Our research suggests that platform scattering and coupling with neighbouring antennas must be included and accounted for as early as possible in the design phase. Also, this work indicates that the ESTEAM software may be an essential tool for the antenna designer working with the next generation of CubeSats.

Learn more about ESTEAM for CubeSat platforms

Research paper: Antennas on CubeSat platforms: Accurate RF predictions

Product page: ESTEAM

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