Chapter 17

Antennas for Deep Space Applications

Paula R. Brown, Richard E. Hodges, and Jacqueline C. Chen

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, USA

17.1 Introduction

Deep space exploration began in 1959 when the Soviet Luna 1 spacecraft missed its intended target of the Moon and went into a heliocentric orbit [1]. Over the last half century, spacecraft have explored every planet in the Solar System as well as comets, asteroids, and the Sun. The Voyager 1 spacecraft is now the most distant human-made object, at more than 17 billion kilometers from Earth as of this writing. All these spacecraft have relied on antennas to communicate their discoveries back to Earth.

Antennas for deep space applications comprise a wide variety of types and frequency bands. Applications include telecommunications, radiometers, scatterometers, altimeters, and radars. Antenna types range from simple dipoles to complex, multi-frequency, and multi-application assemblies such as the Cassini reflector antenna [2].

The distinguishing requirements of deep space antennas are often due to the extreme environments in which the antennas must survive and operate. Spacecraft assemblies are exposed to high mechanical vibration, acoustic noise, and acceleration loads during launch and again for entry, descent, and landing if the assembly is part of a lander or rover. Assemblies may experience pyrotechnic shock loads, which could be self-generating if the antenna has a deployable component, ...

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