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Information security

Until recently, communication satellites have offered an extremely limited flexibility when it comes to resource allocation. Upcoming systems, however, will have to cope in real-time with spatio-temporal variations of the traffic demands and more stringent security requirements. In this context, active antennas – known as phased array antennas – will play a major role by making it easier to reallocate power and frequency resources in desired regions on earth via beamforming. Active beamforming is also a key functionality for information-secure satellite systems that ensures that interference and weak interception performance can be avoided. This paradigm shift brings significant design challenges in terms of hardware complexity and power management on-board the satellite payloads.

Even though advances in the domain of digital on-board processors have recently been achieved, power consumption issues do not allow the use of fully digital beamforming for active satellite antennas. For this reason, intensive research efforts have recently been done in the domain of hybrid (analog/digital) beamforming, which allows to find a trade-off between the power consumption of the on-board processor and the complexity of the analog hardware. The hybrid beamforming experiment planned in the SeRANIS project will pave the way for this key technology to continue maturing.

Core objectives and unique feature

The aim of the hybrid beamforming experiment is to identify an optimal trade-off between beamforming performance and on-board power consumption. In this way the feasibility of the hybrid beamforming technology for highly flexible satellite systems with limited power and processing resources will be thoroughly investigated.

Our objective is to design a Ka-band hybrid phased array antenna that is able to generate two spatially separated beams both in the transmitting and in the receiving direction. SeRANIS offers a unique possibility to test the hybrid beamforming technology for the first time in the harsh environment of space. At the end of the project, our research team will be able to formulate recommendations on the most promising hybrid beamforming solutions. These recommendations will be based on the results of measurement campaigns conducted during the satellite’s lifetime.

What do we aim to achieve?

The expertise acquired during the project will constitute a strong asset to develop future civil and military satellite systems. Cooperation with industrial partners in the context of payload development will pave the way for technology transfer and favor the market introduction of new products for advanced digital satellite systems. Moreover, the project also promotes the training of young researchers, which is of crucial importance to maintaining a competitive european research ecosystem.

Participating institutes

Institute of Information Technology
Institute for Microelectronics and Integrated Circuits
Institute for High Frequency Technology

Contact

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Matthias Korb
Prof. Dr.-Ing. (habil.) Stefan Lindenmeier
Dr.-Ing. Thomas Delamotte