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System concepts for transmit arrays of parabolic antennas for deep space uplinksPhased arrays of parabolic antennas are a potentially lower-cost way to provide uplink transmission to distant spacecraft, compared to the 34-m and 70-m antennas now used by the NASA Deep Space Network. A large transmit array could provide very high EIRP when needed for spacecraft emergencies, such as the equivalent of 1 MW radiated from a 70-m antenna. Cost-effectiveness is realized by dividing the array into smaller arrays to provide routine support to many spacecraft simultaneously. The antennas might be as small as 12-m in diameter, with as many as 100 antennas covering an area of 0.5 km to 1 km in extent. Such arrays present significant technical challenges in phase alignment, which must be maintained at close to 1 mm. The concept requires a very stable system with accurately known antenna phase center locations. The system is first calibrated by transmitting from all antennas, and observing the signals at a target located in the far fields of the individual antennas. The antennas are then pointed to the operational targets, with the signal phases and time delays set to reinforce in the target directions. This requires accurate knowledge of the target directions and calculation of the required phases. The system must be phase-stable for all directions and over the time between calibrations, which is desired to be at least one day. In this paper, a system concept is presented, the major error sources are identified, a rough error budget is established, and key elements of the system are discussed. A calibration method is recommended which uses satellites as radar targets. The performance goal is to achieve a combining loss of less than 0.2 dB in good weather, and of less than 1 dB in all but extremely bad weather.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Document Type
Conference Paper
External Source(s)
Hurd, William J.
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
March 5, 2005
Subject Category
Communications And Radar
Meeting Information
Meeting: IEEE Aerospace Conference
Location: Big Sky, MT
Country: United States
Start Date: March 5, 2005
End Date: March 12, 2005
Distribution Limits
Effective Isotropic Radiated Power (EIRP)
high EIRP
uplink arrays
Deep Space Network (DSN)

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