A solar panel that is also an antenna is to be launched aboard a Cosmos rocket from Russia’s Plesetsk cosmodrome on 27 October on a demonstration flight as part of the European Space Agency-sponsored Rubin-3 satellite.

The Advanced Solar Antenna (Asolant) has been developed to combine the functions of power generation and data transmission and reception to reduce satellite mass. Rubin-3 will be placed in a 700km (435 miles) Sun-synchronous orbit and use the antenna for mobile telephony and to send and receive global positioning system signals.

“It has been possible to develop slot antennas that make efficient use of the space available for solar cells. The cells can be adapted to each antenna shape,” says Asolant developer Juan Mosig at the Electromagnetic and Acoustics Laboratory of Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, which has spun off a company, JAST, to commercialise the technology.

Asolant consists of a large metal surface that has narrow slots cut into it. The slot length is half a wavelength at the desired frequency and the width is a small fraction of a wavelength. The solar cells are three layers of thin flexible amorphous-silicon film, which have a total thickness of 5µm, and are attached to the metal plate area surrounding the slots.


Source: Flight International