ESA investigates 'antenna' spacecraft structure

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Micro and nano-sized spacecraft whose entire structures will act as the telecommunications antenna are to be investigated under a European Space Agency study worth up to €500,000 ($787,000). Micro spacecraft have a mass below 100kg (220lb) and nano below 10kg.

The study, called miniaturised multi-functional antenna system for micro/nano-satellites, will see ESA's technical and quality engineering directorate's electromagnetic and space environment department build and test, with a contractor, a proof-of-concept prototype antenna system.

"The antenna...shall be developed, based on existing and proven tools...and on the knowledge derived from [cellular phones and WIFI equipment]," says ESA.

Because the micro or nano spacecraft's telecommunications system requires a level of redundancy it may be necessary to use several radio frequency emitters, requiring the study to focus on antenna miniaturisation and multi-functionality.