A novel patch antenna technology was developed that provides significant benefits to NASA satellite communication applications, offering a unique wide-band/multi-band operating capability. For other non-space applications, the antenna design also offers broadband capability with high gain for applications where signal strength and smaller antenna sizes are important. The technology was developed to design antennas for satellites where the target communication frequency is unknown or unassigned.
The patch antenna technology exhibits higher operational bandwidth (on the order of 20%) than typical patch antennas (less than 10%) and can operate across integer-multiple frequency bands (e.g. S/X, C/X, S/C). Testing of the antenna design demonstrated >6 dB of gain on both S and X bands (boresight), with an axial ratio of <6 dB and voltage standing wave ratio (VSWR) <3:1 throughout the entire near-Earth network operating bands (22.4 GHz and 88.4 GHz) with hemispherical coverage. The patch size is on the order of 10 × 10 cm and with associated electronics, is about 1 cm in height.