Deployable Mesh Reflector Antennas for Space Applications: RF Characterizations
Deployable antenna structures are required to generate the large apertures necessary for many space applications. Deployable mesh reflectors have been successfully used in telecommunications applications for several decades. The structures are lightweight and can be packaged in a compact form for launch. Once deployed, the antennas are rigid and can be built with surfaces accurate enough for Ka-band operation. Reflector mesh fabrics are available that are fine enough to be highly reflective at Ka-band, yet have relatively low mass.
In this chapter, the history of spaceborne deployable mesh reflectors is briefly reviewed, and then design considerations are discussed. An earlier review paper on deployable antennas was presented by Roederer and Rahmat-Samii , and the mechanical designs of several different mesh reflector types were described in detail by Davis and Tanimoto  and Tibert . General reflector antenna design guidelines are available in many other antenna engineering handbooks . The remainder of this chapter is devoted to a case study of the antenna design for NASA's Soil Moisture Active and Passive (SMAP) mission1. The antenna is a 6 m deployable offset mesh reflector that is part of a remote ...