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ESA Develops Breakthrough Mesh Reflector for Shaped Radio Beams

19 Sep 2020, 10:13 UTC
ESA Develops Breakthrough Mesh Reflector for Shaped Radio Beams
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A prototype 2.6-m diameter metal-mesh antenna reflector. (Credit: Leri Datashvili/Large Space Structures GmbH)

NOORDWIJK, Netherlands (ESA PR) — This prototype 2.6-m diameter metal-mesh antenna reflector represents a big step forward for the European space sector: versions can be manufactured to reproduce any surface pattern that antenna designers wish, something that was previously possible only with traditional solid antennas.

“This is really a first for Europe,” says ESA antenna engineer Jean-Christophe Angevain. “China and the US have also been working hard on similar shaped mesh reflector technology. It is needed so that sufficiently large antennas can be deployed in orbit, which would otherwise be too bulky to fit inside a launcher fairing, while also meeting required performance levels.”

ESA’s AMPER (Advanced techniques for mesh reflector with improved radiation pattern performance) project performed with Large Space Structures GmbH in Germany as prime and TICRA in Denmark as subcontractor.

Antenna reflectors for satellites are often surprisingly ‘lumpy’ looking. Their basic paraboloid convex shape is distorted with additional peaks and valleys. These serve to contour the resulting radio frequency beam, typically to boost signal gain over target countries and minimise it beyond their borders.

“This tailored surface shaping is traditionally done with traditional metal ...

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