Applications such as planetary radars and spacecraft communications require transmitters with extremely high effective isotropic radiated power. Until now, this has been done by combining a high-power microwave source with a large reflective antenna. However, this arrangement has a number of disadvantages. It is costly, since the steerable reflector alone is quite expensive, and for spacecraft communications, the need to transmit hurts the receive performance. For planetary radars, the utilization is very low since the antenna must be shared with other applications such as radio astronomy or spacecraft communications. This paper describes a potential new way of building such transmitters with lower cost, greater versatility, higher reliability, and potentially higher power. The basic idea is a phased array with a very large number of low-power elements, built with mass production techniques that have been optimized for consumer markets. The antennas are built en mass on printed circuit boards and are driven by chips, built with consumer complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor technology, that adjust the phase of each element. Assembly and maintenance should be comparatively inexpensive since the boards need only be attached to large, flat, unmoving, ground-level infrastructure. Applications to planetary radar and spacecraft communications are examined. Although we would be unlikely to use such a facility in this way, an implication for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is that high-power beacons are easier to build than had been thought.
- Pub Date:
- October 2005
- Electromagnetics: Antenna arrays;
- Electromagnetics: Antennas;
- Electromagnetics: Reflectors and feeds;
- Electromagnetics: Instruments and techniques;
- Interplanetary Physics: Instruments and techniques