Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

MIT's Inflatable Antennae Could Boost Small Satellite Communications

Comments Filter:
  • Can't they get the signal lasers working? Much better for max signal strength, bandwidth, power usage and transmitter size.
    • Re:Laser (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @01:24AM (#44781773)

      "Can't they get the signal lasers working? Much better for max signal strength, bandwidth, power usage and transmitter size."

      Signal lasers are WORK and EXPENSE. You have to accurately track your target both for transmission and reception. Far, far more expense than cubesats justify.

      Maybe one day it will be cheap and easy. Not today.

      • by symbolset (646467) *
        With an adjustable lens on your transmitter, no you don't. It is not that hard to widen the beam and use feedback to home in on the target and improve the focus until you have a nice strong signal and then ramp the bandwidth. And the parts for this are truly tiny. Compared to an inflatable balloon in space? No contest.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          With an adjustable lens on your transmitter, no you don't. It is not that hard to widen the beam and use feedback to home in on the target and improve the focus until you have a nice strong signal and then ramp the bandwidth. And the parts for this are truly tiny. Compared to an inflatable balloon in space? No contest.

          So much cluelessness in just 5 sentences. Impressive.

        • Re:Laser (Score:5, Informative)

          by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @02:01AM (#44781913)
          Huh? No, I'm not the one who is wrong here.

          The more focused your "lens", the tighter your aim must be. And my whole point was the expense of accurate aiming equipment.

          Fine, use a parabolic dish for your RADIO. But a pinpoint laser, today, is about the LEAST cost-effective solution you could come up with for cheap satellites.

          Don't take my word for it. Try it.
        • Just to be clear: I didn't miss your point. I understand that focusable, aimable systems can do the job. Far more so than they could have, say, 10 years ago.

          But they STILL can't do it as simply or cheaply as a basic parabolic antenna.
    • The problem with that is cubesats get launched piggy-backed on Air Force satellites; and they can't give you particularly accurate orbital dynamics. It's hard enough to get a signal using the 433 Mhz band where you really only have to know the position of the cubesat to within a few degrees. To use a laser for communication, you would have to know the position to within a tiny fraction of an arc-second.
      • Laser beams can be arbitrarily expanded, cheaply and easily. The disadvantages of laser space communication are elsewhere, including blockage by clouds.
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Signal lasers for special forces on the ground dragging power with them trying to aim up at something at a set time?
    • by bmo (77928)

      Can't they get the signal lasers working?

      There's this thing called weather. Perhaps you've heard of it.

      The problem with lasers is that they do not penetrate clouds at all.

      Clouds take lasers and other light beams and spread them out into nothing in only a few feet. That's because they're composed of a bunch of little prisms - water droplets. As a land survey technician, I couldn't get a beam bounce from a retroreflector during a fog even if I could still see it myself 20 feet away.

      --
      BMO

  • What, like this product [gatr.com] that's been on the market for about a decade or so?

    -jcr

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Bad summary, it's the inflation system that's unique.

    • Maybe, but since cubesats are only 10cm x 10cm it needs to be a LOT smaller.
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      The idea could be to replace a few stealthy or known overloaded platforms with trackable orbits just before action against a real enemy with a hint of having anti-satellite weapons.
      Dont bet all on the super expensive stealthy "one" that teams of amateurs blog about.
      Flood the short term war zone with cheap new sats and enjoy the high ground for a bit longer.
  • by toygeek (473120) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @01:13AM (#44781751) Homepage Journal

    New research from MIT scientists shows that you can MAKE YOUR ANTENNA BIGGER! Try our fast safe ANTENNA ENLARGEMENT powder!

    - Convenient!
    - Inexpensive!
    - MORE POWERFUL EMISSIONS!
    - Bigger girth!
    - More Gain!
    - Long Lasting!

    Guaranteed satisfaction, for you AND for her(tz)!

    • Can you put your weed in there?
    • by ai4px (1244212)
      Maybe they just need one of those cell phone antenna booster stickers?
  • by maroberts (15852) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @02:57AM (#44782109) Homepage Journal

    the autopilot [/airplane]

  • ...and I need to change my blinker fluid, lubricate my muffler bearings and put winter air in my tires before it gets cold.

  • The bird will need an attitude detection and control system to take advantage of this antenna... decreasing the available weight, volume, and power available for other things. TANSTAAFL.

    • Actually, cubesats need at least a simple attitude control system, i.e., detumbling. Without one they spin up. See e.g. AAUSat II [space.aau.dk]:

      We are still working on finding the reason for the fast rotation rate, especially why it accelerated over the course of 40 days. We have a number of ideas, der include the torque caused by the magnetic dipole generated by the solar cells.

      That said, being able to actually point in a specific direction with the sat is quite hard, and a lot of work.

    • Indeed. As they get more gain out of this antenna, it has to be pointed with more precision. Being inflatable, if the antenna has any kind of wobble after movement... well that's just one more aggravating detail.

  • Is MIT an insect with inflatable feelers which somehow assist in satellite communications?

    When referring to a radio antenna the plural is "antennas."
  • The inflatable antenna lets a CubeSat transmit data back to Earth at a distance seven times farther than that of existing CubeSat communications."

    When are they going to be orbiting cubesats 7x higher than they do now? No, what such an antenna can do is allow you to operate at 50x less transmitter power (or 50x the data rate at the same power). Or receive at 50x the data rate. That's all good. but we won't be sending any cubesats past the moon. Spacecraft designed for high orbits must be designed for long missions, and cubesats are designed for short missions because they must compromise something to make things fit in tiny spaces.

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. -- John Muir

Working...