IADS - Inflatable Antenna Deployment System
The Inflatable Antenna Deployment System is a novel technology that CatSat will demonstrate. During launch, IADS is packed inside the spacecraft, safely tucked into a compact container. After launch, the antenna will deploy from its container, inflate to 0.5 meters (1.64 feet) across, and begin operating as a high speed data link. CatSat represents the first demonstration of this system in orbit, though many more will surely follow.
Small satellites, such as Cubesats, are an increasingly popular form of space exploration that enable new science with a lower cost, difficulty, and barrier to entry than traditional satellites. However, due to size and mass constraints, small satellites are typically limited to low bandwidth communications. This typically limits missions of this type to Earth orbit. An inflatable antenna would provide high bandwidth communication, with a small mass and pre-deployment volume. IADS is expected to provide up to 50 Mbps downlink speeds.
IADS has been developed by Freefall Aerospace.
The HD Camera is a high definition camera designed to image the surface of the Earth. From orbit, the camera has an approximate footprint of 783 by 626 kilometers (487 by 389 miles) with a ground resolution of approximately 612 meters (2008 feet) per pixel. This means that, in one picture, the satellite could see almost all of Arizona! The images from this instrument will be useful as detailed imagery and will be used as data to prove the functionality of IADS.
The Weak Signal Propagation Reporter, or WSPR (pronounced “whisper”) antenna is a long antenna designed to pick up WSPR signals from HAM radio stations across the world. After launch, the antenna is deployed from its folded up launch configuration and protrudes from the bottom of CatSat.
WSPR transmissions follow a precise format which includes information about the location and power of the device transmitting the signal. By taking what the signal should look like based on the transmitted information and contrasting it with the way the signal arrives at the receiver, variations and properties of the atmosphere can be determined. One particular interest to the scientists behind this antenna is the effect of the day and night cycle on radio transmissions.