This project aims to develop a novel communication system for Inter-satellite links (ISLs) at millimeter wave (mmWave) frequencies (60GHz), compatible with CubeSats and small satellites. Inter-satellite communication is a key enabler of advanced Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellations that intend to provide high speed connectivity around the globe, especially for remote areas. In such constellations, employing high data rate satellite to satellite links significantly reduces the latency and increases the resilience compared to data relaying via multiple ground stations. ISLs also facilitate connectivity with satellites in other orbits including Medium Earth Orbits (MEO) and Geostationary Orbit (GEO).
This project will also investigate use cases for ISLs supporting satellite to satellite communication in formation flying scenarios where multiple satellites fly together to achieve a single mission. Despite of all the advantages, the design of ISL is a challenging task due to the dynamic relative motions of the satellites and the need to develop high data rate links with constrained Size Weight and Power (SWaP). Accurate pointing and tracking mechanisms are required to maintain the connectivity between multiple satellites.
This will enable simultaneous connectivity between multiple satellites. Use of digital or hybrid beamforming will eliminate the need for mechanical beam steering (gimbals). This project will also investigate beam tracking techniques (e.g., monopulse tracking). The phased array antennas with beam tracking capability will then be able to track the transmitter as it moves to maintain connectivity.
Dr Jeewani Kodithuwakkuge, Defence Science and Technology Group