Large DIATOOL: Diagnosing antennas on satellite platforms
One of the most important aspects of a fabricated antenna prototype is to characterise how it radiates. Sometimes, the measured antenna radiation does not agree with predictions from simulations, and when this is the case, antenna diagnostics can be used to isolate the source of the discrepancy.
Antenna diagnostics is all about finding the currents that radiate a specific electric field. These currents can then be used to identify defects in an antenna under test and thus speed up the prototyping process.
DIATOOL is an antenna diagnostics software by TICRA that was released in 2011. It consists of two current reconstruction solvers: a planar method based on a spherical wave to plane wave transformation, and a 3D method based on an inverse Method of Moments (MoM) formulation. The first method is very fast in its computations but limited in terms of application areas. The second method, on the other hand, is very flexible and general but limited in terms of its computational speed and memory requirements. A strong demand has, thus, emerged to find an antenna diagnostics method that combines the computational speed of the first method with the flexibility of the second method.
In this context, the European Space Agency – ESA awarded in early 2019 the project “Fast Diagnostic Methods for Large-Scale Full-Satellite Antenna Measurements” to TICRA. The goal of the activity was to develop a method that could carry out antenna diagnostics of antennas mounted on satellites, a very challenging task from a simulation point of view.
Many alternative numerical formulations and solution methods were evaluated in the framework of the project from 2019 to 2021. The outcome became a new inverse MoM solver that fulfils the requirements of the project, to be extremely fast and flexible, while at the same time providing accurate results.
The new solver will be included in a new release of the DIATOOL software, giving the customers of TICRA the possibility to carry out antenna diagnostics in cases not previously possible to analyse.