Antenna Elements Integrated into the Parachutes of Planetary Entry Probes
Corral van Damme, Carlos
van der Vorst, Maarten
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The canopy of the parachutes of planetary entry probes may be used to integrate elements of the antennas in charge of the communications with the orbiter spacecraft during the descent. The additional surface provided by the parachute may allow the implementation of higher gain antennas compared to more conventional solutions where the antenna is installed on the lander. For missions where the acquired scientific data needs to be transmitted during the descent through the atmosphere, the higher gain could maximize the scientific return of the mission. In this paper, designs for a steerable S-band patch array antenna located on the canopy of a disk-gap-band parachute are presented. A retrodirective technique is used to point the antenna beam in the direction of the orbiter. The design concept is flexible and can be adapted to different mission requirements and constraints (frequency band, etc.). Different configurations are analysed in terms of the antenna performance, the aerodynamics of the parachute, the link budget, and the impact on the mission at system level. A system prototype is being built and will be dropped from a balloon for testing. Finally, recommendations on the developments required for this technology as well as on its potential applications are provided, including the analysis of the possible use of these antennas for planetary exploration balloons.