A Webinar on “Antennas on CubeSat”

The IEEE Communications Society, Brac University Student Branch Chapter, conducted its first event, a webinar on “Antennas on CubeSat,” on April 14, 2023. The chapter advisor and members of her executive board moderated the webinar, which was held online. This session sharply began at 03:00 pm. The speaker was Dr Daisuke Nakayama, a renowned researcher affiliated with the Laboratory of Lean Satellite Enterprises and In-Orbit Experiments (LaSEINE) at Kyushu Institute of Technology  (KyuTech), Japan. The main objective of this event was to briefly introduce the attendees to the function of antennas on CubeSat and the process one should follow while designing an antenna. However, despite the fact that this was the very first event hosted by the IEEE ComSoc Brac University Student Branch Chapter and that to a webinar, the turnout was quite impressive: 60 students from Brac University as well as from other universities, including 7 to 8  international participants attended it, among whom we had three of our honorable faculties, Tasfin Mahmud, Abdulla Hil Kafi and Raihana Shams Islam Antara. 

Since the rapid evolution of technology, communication is anticipated to be transmitted and received rapidly with fewer errors, whether through wireless networks or other means, and that is where antennas solve the problem. Antennas, as we know, function as a transducer designed to receive and transmit electromagnetic waves and can be pretty effective in communication systems. Similar things also happen in space, where one can consider satellites essentially “antennas in space”. Satellite antennas, along with their transponders, are the key elements through which satellites are able to communicate to and from ground stations. The antennas on the satellite receive the signals transmitted (uplinked) from Earth, which are then processed by a transponder and the onboard computer and amplified before being sent back to Earth. CubeSats, on the other hand, are miniature satellites of a highly standardized size and weight that are designed for a tiny fraction of the cost of a traditional satellite, and the antennas on CubeSats are used to send telemetry and payload back to the ground station as well as receive commands. The design of these antennas is a complex and ever-evolving field due to certain limitations, and the webinar addressed the difficulties that could arise while designing an antenna for CubeSats.

The session began with the opening remarks of the Chapter Advisor of IEEE Communications Society Brac University Student Branch Chapter, Raihana Shams Islam Antara, and then the speaker, Dr Daisuke Nakayama, followed. Since this was the first event of the ComSoc chapter, the goal was to keep it at an introductory level for our members, who are all undergraduate students. Keeping that in mind, the speaker generously opened the session by explaining radio wave communication before diving into the topic. The speaker then subsequently divided his content into two segments. At first, he discussed the role of the antenna, followed by its basic principles and limitations, which included things like gain and radiation pattern, return loss, antenna size, etc. Once done with the first segment, then continued with the second segment, which was about his recent research on antennas for CubeSats. He introduced the audience to the several CubeSat antenna types and their applications. These included the patch antenna, reflector-based antenna, dipole and monopole antennas, surface sharing with solar cells, etc. The session was quite successful as, in a very short time, the speaker tried to give everyone a basic understanding of antennas and cubesats, followed by some technical concepts about them. 

Furthermore, the speaker’s participation in the Q&A session that followed his presentation made the event more engaging. He took several questions from the audience and made it interactive by sharing valuable insights from his experience with them. For about half an hour, the Q&A session continued, where the speaker’s appreciative and inviting demeanor made the audience feel at ease to express their ideas, with one of the attendees even sharing his idea about his special cubesat antenna. The session finally drew to a close with a thank-you address from the presenter, followed by a group photo. Pleasantries were then exchanged, and hence the lively session on “Antennas on CubeSat” concluded.