Deep Space Communications using Cubesats

Supervisor Name/s: 
Prof Andrew Dempster
Research field/s: 
Satellite Systems
Satellite navigation, positioning

Cubesats have become very popular recently, and many are already in low-earth orbit. Missions are beginning to be considered that are in higher orbits, or leave earth’s orbit all together. For missions such as these, communications will be a serious issue. Because of a cubesat’s small size, it suffers both from needing a small antenna, and having small solar panels. This general area can produce studies in many topics including: - Evaluating the best methods of communicating on a cubesat – technologies, frequencies etc. What is actually achievable for different-sized cubesats (1U, 2U, 3U, 6U, 12U…)? - Evaluating how comms can be achieved for different missions. For instance, an asteroid mining mission is likely to have a “mother ship” and several cubesat or cubesat-like “slaves” serving it. How could that network best be connected to earth to service the mission objectives?