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CubeSat mission design for characterising the dual auroral radar network (SuperDAN) field-of-view
The French South African Institute of Technology (F’SATI) at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) began a program in Satellite Systems Engineering in 2009 and is developing its first satellites. The satellites are based on the CubeSat standard, which defines one unit (1U) as a cube with a maximum weight of 1 kg and volume of 1dm3, and can be scaled up to three units (3U) for increased functionality. ZACUBE-1, a 1U CubeSat that is being developed, will be launched into a sun synchronous orbit in 2013. The main payload of the 1U CubeSat under development is a space weather experiment (beacon transmitter). The beacon transmitter is a scientific payload, which is being developed in collaboration with SANSA Space Science (SANSA SS) in Hermanus, South Africa. The beacon signal will be used to characterise the space weather radar antenna array at the South African National Antarctic Expedition (SANAE IV) base in Antarctica. The SANAE IV radar forms part of the SuperDARN (Dual Auroral Radar Network) project. This phased array antenna network comprises 16 radiating elements, with a 3o beam width that can be steered in 16 different directions to span the azimuth sector. These antennas are spread over both the northern and southern hemispheres. They operate in the HF band between 8 to 20 MHz and are used to primarily monitor the convection of the Earth’s magnetic field by monitoring coherent scatter from it. Orbital analyses were conducted to determine how the choice of the orbit affects the coverage of the array’s field-of-view. Propagation analyses were conducted to investigate how space weather variations affect HF signal propagation. The beacon signal will be used as an active target source and will enable the determination of the phase response of the array, thereby determining the direction-of-arrival of the signal. This will allow the experimental verification of the antenna’s beam pattern. The beacon signal prototype board was developed by using an RFID transceiver that operates in the HF band, capable of delivering up to 200 mW. Position determination of the satellite will be done by using two line elements (TLE) data. Experimental data will be available once ZACUBE-1 is in orbit; therefore, the work presented here documents a feasibility study and design of the experiment that will be conducted once the satellite is in orbit.