REVOLVE Fellow attends Alpbach Summer School

 

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How can you know about Earth composition or Earth sub layers activities that provoke earthquakes and continental drift? You can always try to go down a volvano crater like in Journey to the Center of the Earth, however satellite observation would be a much practical solution ! Measuring magnetic and gravitational fields with satellites can give much more information on our Earth that Jules Verne would have dreamt of. Check the maps and data provided by ESA missions such as SWARM for magnetic field or GOCE for the gravitational field to convince yourself.

Earth magnetic and gravitational fields were the topic of Alpbach Summerschool organized by FFG (Austrian Research Promotion Agency) and ESA in which I took part this summer. 60 students from all over Europe attended this event in the middle of the beautiful Austrian Alps.

During the first few days we attended courses on magnetic and gravitational fields and on satellite mission design. Earth magnetic field comes from the movements of electrically charged particles, these movements may comes from the rise of less dense matters from the core of Earth (that may result in volcanoes or continents rifts). Measurements help to explain the geologic phenomena happening under our feet. Gravity field measurements help us to know about the composition of Earth (densier regions of Earth will have  higher gravitational field) and its geodesy (the Earth shape is not completely a sphere).
In groups of 15 people we worked on a mission proposal to leverage satellites constellations for magnetic and gravitational remote sensing. Our team was called RUBIKS (Reconstruction of Undercrust Behaviour with Interconnected Kube Satellites) and we managed to propose a mission of 8 satellites that would map both the gravitational and magnetic field with a low-cost design and unprecedented time resolution.
Alpbach Summerschool was a tremendous experience that I recommend to anyone interested in space and science. It was intense with a lot of work but with what I learnt and the mission we came up with in the end, it was completely worth it. We were supported by two tutors and lecturers who gave us a lot of precious feedback.

Our efforts were rewarded by an award for the most innovative mission by a panel of experienced scientists and engineers. Special thanks for the CNES for the sponsorship, to Peter Faulkner, Michaela Gitsch, our tutors Olivier Carraz and Tyler Jones, and all the RUBIKS team.

That’s all for today, see you soon when I pop back to update my blog with more of my PhD experiences!

REVOLVE PhD School

European School of Antennas: Disruptive antennas based on emerging technologies for novel satellite telecommunication scheme

In the framework of the European School of Antennas (ESoA), we are pleased to announce the first edition of the course “Disruptive antennas based on emerging technologies for novel satellite telecommunication scheme’’ scheduled from the 25th to 29th of November, 2019 in Rennes, France. 

Antenna technologies are core to space systems & services and central in defining the investment return for a wide range of satellite missions. As the frightening rates of concurrent advances in space-related services, business models and technologies are driving the space ecosystem to a new age, the need to re-invent antenna technologies for space is becoming increasingly urgent.

While the sector is proactively looking for the next game changer, a whole new class of emerging and forecasted missions place urgent demands for drastic reduction in cost with a concurrent radical improvement in throughput, agility, volume/mass and power consumption. The European project REVOLVE is tackling such challenges.

This PhD course is organized in the framework of the REVOLVE’s project to promote disruptive antenna technologies for emerging satellite missions.

For more information download the flyer!

REVOLVE and ESoA

Florian Vidal, REVOLVE PhD Fellow, recommends that if you are a student studying antennas then a visit to the ESoA (European School of Antennas) is a must!  Several times a year, many universities organize antenna courses for PhD students . In May 2019,  Florian went on a course organized by Chalmers University in the city of Gothenburg and on the topic of 5G antennas. During that week, technical courses and discussion sessions were organized on how antenna technologies can help to set up 5G networks. The courses were given during the day by people from industry or professors and at the end of the day students were given the opportunity to discuss the ideas that were presented during the day.

What is 5G? Imagine 10 to 100 times more datarate and latency of about 1ms… Perfect to watch Netflix in high definition or to play in the highest leagues of League of Legends. ESoA is also a social event where I met other PhDs, professor and people from industry. Networking around a beer or a bowling session is always great!

Florian Vidal, PhD Fellow

Florian would like to thank Chalmers University, in particular Professor Yian Jiang, for the warm welcome and for the high quality courses that will help him in his future career!

REVOLVE and EuCAP

The 13thEuropean Conference on Antennas and Propagation took place from the 31th of March until the 5thof April in the beautiful city of Krakow and included a wide range of delegates from academia and industry from all over the world.

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The massive participation and the high quality of the antennas and propagation representatives denote the big success of the conference. Of course, REVOLVE project could not be absent from this big event. Many delegates from the REVOLVE consortium were present in EuCAP and among them myself.

Above all, I want to express my absolute delight and satisfaction for being a part of the most important meeting held by the best both academic and industrial representatives on antennas and propagation. From my side, I presented the paper with title ‘Design of a Compact Four-Way Dual Polarization Orthomode Power Divider for Multiport Radiating Elements’ in the 23rdConvened Session named ‘Antenna needs and solutions for future Space missions’. This work presents briefly the design and evaluation of a dual-polarized microwave excitation network, which comprises 4 outputs and its afterwards connection to feed a stacked Fabry-Perot cavity antenna. The successful presentation of this project as well as the massive attendance and interest of the conference’s delegates at this session were the two most memorable things for me.

Of course, during the conference I had the chance to meet people from industries as well as academia (universities, R&D sections at companies, research centers), with whom I had time to exchange views and ideas about several aspects related to the emerging microwave and antennas technologies. On the whole, this EuCAP has been an absolutely inspiring and motivating experience for me.

REVOLVE partners

PetrosI would like to tell everyone about my secondment in IETR (Institut d’Electronique et de Télécommunications de Rennes).

I believe that cooperation is one of the most important keys is our tough RF world. In my period in IETR I had the pleasure to meet my friends and colleagues post doc and PhD candidates (from right to left) Dr Nicola Bartolomei, Michele Del Mastro, Thomas Strober, Srdan Pakovic.

I would like to thank his colleagues for our creating talks, your company and encouragement in our short period in IETR.

Caltech Space Challenge

Andrea, REVOLVE PhD Fellow participated in Caltech Space Challenge week.

The workshop brought 32 undergraduate and graduate students from all over the world to gather at Caltech and their task was to design a pre-phase A mission to Enceladus in 5 days. The participants came from different scientific backgrounds, representing engineering, science, business, graphical design, and many others. They were divided in two different groups and they were able to benefit from working under the mentorship of experienced engineers and managers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Caltech (Keck Institute for Space Studies and Galcit) and private industry (Lockheed Martin, The Aerospace Corporation and Northrop Grumman).

Andrea worked in his team as the System Engineer (telecom, thermal and power subsystem dimensioning), and collaborated on the scientific instrumentation study as well as for the mission analysis concept and architecture. The opportunity to work with the other 15 people in his team, each from a different background gave him the opportunity to learn other scientific fields, and provided him with an opportunity to refine the rough work done in 5 days in order to have a more rigorous proposal and the opportunity of a conference paper (to be detailed soon). It is uncommon to have 16 people selected among several applicants working together on a mission concept!

The Workshop gave the team the opportunity to visit the Jet Propulsion Laboratory under the guide of A-team and X-team experts for half a day. The rest of the day was dedicated to classes under the mentorship of JPL engineers. During the week they enjoyed several lectures (soon to be online) on space exploration, science objectives and instrumentation. We had an afternoon of mentorship from the former JPL director Charles Elachi. He was also available to answer any technical and non-technical questions about their proposal.

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Edinburgh Christmas Market
Edinburgh Christmas Market

Once per year, the REVOLVE fellows meet for a training week. In December 2018, the event took place in Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. During this week our REVOLVE Fellows had the chance to meet experts from the telecommunication industry (Eutelsat, Thales, LSS, Sofant) and academia (Heriot-Watt, IETR, ESA). The topic discusses was mainly about antenna systems for satellite or user terminals. The Fellows enjoyed a presentation from an expert who gave them advice to patent their designs. Moreover it was the occasion to have a review of our activities and plan for the future (publications, conference, demonstrators…). Some of them are considering (or have already!) submitted patents which shows that the project is progressing well.

Maxwell House
REVOLVERS at the James Clerk Maxwell Foundation

The REVOLVE Fellows also visited the birth place of James Maxwell, the genius behind the equations that rule Electromagnetics. It was interesting to see that he had great achievements not only in electromagnetism but also in mechanics, astrophysics, thermodynamics and poetry! The James Clerk Maxwell Foundation welcomes visitors and you can visit his elegnat Georgian house which displays a growing cllection of heritage material associated with James Clerk Maxwell and his associates. To find our more visit the James Clerk Maxwell Foundation website.

REVOLVE in science day at George Heriot School

GHREVOLVE organised a Science Day for all primary three students at George Heriot School in Edinburgh. The event took place on Tuesday 11 December in the school premises addressing the theme of ‘Electricity’. REVOLVE brought in a number of hands on experiments to illustrate the concept of conductance and how to use play-dough or pencils in circuits. Together REVOLVE illustrated how electricity can be give rise to magnetism and use a home made paper-plate speaker to show a practical application. REVOLVE’s Theremin was also available and attracted the attention of the students.

Science in the City Festival

REVOLVE  had a very successful participation in the Science in the City Festival which took place in Toulouse (9th-14th July 2018) as part of the 8th edition of the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF). REVOLVE fellows together with volunteers from the three institutions showcased their latest innovations and proposed scientific challenges to visitors in a friendly and interactive Fun Family Day. The presented open session named ‘REVOLVE  – Waves: Radio and Space’ allowed attendees of all ages to take part in a series of applied engineering experiments ranging from making your own speaker, setting up your own radio link and making music with the wave of a hand through interference of electromagnetic fields. All public actively engaged with the team and had alos the opportunity to see real satellite components. Being the largest interdisciplinary science meeting in Europe, the event offered a unique framework for interaction between engineers and the general public.

Many of the children drew pictures of space and of satellites!

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REVOLVE and Explorathon 2018

EXplorathonREVOLVE fellows participated in Edinburgh’s Explorathon 2018 in collaboration with Leith Labs! The venue this year was the popular Shopping Centre located in Ocean Terminal. One of the activities carried out at the event showed how researchers at the Microwave and Antenna Engineering Group at Heriot-Watt University are working to use traditional electromagnetic concepts to wirelessly transmit power that can recharge electronic devices. This will enable us to charge our devices on the move, become more environmentally friendly reducing the number of batteries in the waste strem, stored power and re-use it. Other activities presented introduced the concept of sound and light waves, which raised a great interest among the kids and, of course, the big ones!

Congratulations to REVOLVE Fellow Louis for his best paper award!

Congratulations to REVOLVE Fellow Louis for his best paper award! The paper ’Origami deployable reflector for small satellites’ and the best paper award was given by the EurAAP  – European Association on Antennas and Propagation as part of the 3rd international Conference on ’Advanced Lightweight Structures and Reflector Antennas’. The Confernce was organised by the Georgian Technical University (GTU), Large Space Structures GmbH (LSS) and with the participation of experts from the European Space Agency (ESA).

REVOLVE to participate in ESOF 2018

20171211_0002_DxOThe REVOLVE team will be taking part in the 8th edition of the ESOF 2018 which takes place in Toulouse from 9th to 14th July 2018.  Our REVOLVE fellows are busy selecting scientific experiments to showcase at Toulouse.

ESOF (EuroScience Open Forum) is the largest interdisciplinary science meeting in Europe. It is dedicated to scientific research and innovation and offers a unique framework for interaction and debate for scientists, innovators, policy makers, business people and the general public – ESOF 2018

Space for Kids will post further details when they become available and don’t forget to keep a look out for more details on how to enter our 1st Annual School Competition!

Figure 4 - The ESA Academy's Concurrent Engineering Workshop - May 2018 participants(credit ESA)

One week at ESA

Blog post by Florian Vidal, REVOLVE Fellow

It has been a while since my last post! Don’t worry I didn’t suffocate under research papers and on the contrary, my work is progressing fine. Today I’m going to focus on an event I participated in which was a workshop organized by ESA. ESA stands for European Space Agency and its role is to provide, for exclusively peaceful purposes, cooperation among European states in space research and technology and their space applications. It also promoting space with outreach (follow their mascot Paxi!) Furthermore, ESA is involved in state-of-the art project such as Galileo, the European GPS.

The topic of the workshop I attended was about concurrent engineering, the art of combining several engineering fields to find an optimal design. I am going to present to you the process we went through to design a spacecraft to go to the moon.

Figure 1 - Redu position in Europe

Figure 1 – Redu position in Europe

The workshop took place in ESA’s European space Security and Education Centre (ESEC) in Redu, a remote Belgian village 2 hours from Brussels. This place was chosen years ago by ESA to minimize interference for satellite operations while remaining in the center of Europe. When I arrived to the hotel I was really surprised by the diversity of nationalities amongst the participants. We were 20 university students, Spanish, German, Polish, Dutch, Italian, Romanian, Portuguese, English and French. Moreover 2 system engineers from ESA were there to support us during this week.

Figure 2 - ESA-ESEC site in Redu, Belgium

Figure 2 – ESA-ESEC site in Redu, Belgium

We were welcomed by ESA staff at ESA Academy’s Training and Learning Centre. There, we were presented ESA and ESA Education Programme, and our mission for the following days: designing a low-cost spacecraft to bring a rover to the moon using ESA Educational Concurrent Engineering Facility (CDF). The name of the mission was LIAR (Lunar Impactor And Rover). The mission consisted in a spacecraft that would impact the moon instead of landing softly. That way we would use less fuel hence a lighter spacecraft. This spacecraft would bring a rover to the moon for an observation mission (taking pictures).

 

Figure 3 - ESA's Educational Concurrent Engineering Facility (CDF) (credit ESA)

Figure 3 – ESA’s Educational Concurrent Engineering Facility (CDF) (Credit:ESA)

The team was composed of several sub-teams divided by subsystems: thermal; communications/data handling; structures; trajectory; configuration;  propulsion; and, power. I was working on communication and data handling subsystems with another student. Concretely our work consisted in finding a/some ground station(s), designing the communication module to enable control, telemetry, and the downlink of the pictures the rover would take on the moon.

Figure 4 - The ESA Academy's Concurrent Engineering Workshop - May 2018 participants(credit ESA)

Figure 4 – The ESA Academy’s Concurrent Engineering Workshop – May 2018 participants (credit: ESA)

We also had the opportunity to visit ESEC facilities. For example, we went into the Proba Operations Control Room. Proba satellites are 3 Belgian observation satellites: Proba-1 is observing Earth; Proba-2 the sun; and, Proba-V vegetation. Their information is precious and can be used for agricultural, weather or scientific purposes.

Figure 5 - Photo of the sun taken by Proba-2 (credit: ESA)

Figure 5 – Photo of the sun taken by Proba-2 (credit: ESA)

During the last 2 days of the Workshop we worked hard to find an optimal solution. It was really challenging in the way all the subsystems interact with other subsystems. For example, as I was working on communications, trade-offs between the number of pictures we can send and the power required on the spacecraft were to be made. It was hard negotiations! The tools provided by ESA and the fact that we were all in the same room were essential to iterate quickly to cross out non-feasible solutions.

In the end I was really surprised by the result of our work. I honestly thought that we could not achieve anything in 4 days for such complex mission but finally the solution we reached seemed not too far-reached! Many thanks to ESA Education Office team for this exciting week!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I was an engineer….

by Holly, age 11 (Edinburgh)

If I was an Engineer I would build a landing gear station and send satellites to the moon!

Part of the Space for Kids project is to invite school-aged children to submit their own space videos and this is the first submission! Holly (age 11) has drawn her own animated storyboard with space rockets, satellites and even a space dog!  Read her space story:

‘This video is for ‘Space for Kids!’ The animation is about a girl who is thinking about what she would do as a Space Engineer….she goes on a special journey to the moon and designs her own space station so that she can fly her own rockets. The girl dreams about Space and about being an engineer so that life is better for people. She is a dreamer and a princess. She has many ideas and wants to share them.’

Thank you to Holly for sharing her fantastic animation about Space for Kids! 

Dreaming of a career in Space…

CBenteynOne of the most difficult things when we are in high school is to know what we want to do. For my part, I have always been impressed by passionate people who knew exactly what they wanted to be in the future : Biologist, Actor, Doctor, Policeman…

In primary school I wanted to be President, in College a Biologist and in high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to be…..perhaps an Archaeologist or an Engineer. During my first year of Engineering my Human Resources colleague asked me, “What is your professional project?”  The only answer I could give her was, “My dream is to have an interesting job, in an interesting company and to be involved in a project which will allow me to dream!”

During my Scholarship I met a number of passionate and interesting people and enjoyed a variety of useful experiences (internships, travels) which, step by step, have helped me to find my way and determine what I wanted to do.

I used the context of the REVOLVE project and the initiative of Mrs. Richard, my Teacher in Physics and Chemistry at the Lycée Condorcet, Paris when speaking with her final year students where I presented my scholarship, my experience and my research. It was really interesting for the students as they could relate to the different experiences of the various panel members.

I hope that my talk inspired the students and that they were touched by the concept of Space Engineering!

Post by Claire Benteyn, PhD Fellow

 

Feed Antennas

Being already in 2018 there is no doubt that satellite communications are an integral part of our life. Although not visible from earth, their importance can be met in a wide range of services. Just imagine the two most common facts: Using a positioning system to track yourself in an isolated place and using your smartphone to communicate with other people or have access to multimedia. Obviously, the satellites can provide these kind of services in an excellent way, whereas there is a great variety of further applications where their use is vital as well, such as weather prediction and space exploration to name a few.

Satellites are in principle big and complex structures, where many components are assembled together so that the satellite can be launched from the earth to the space. One of the most significant part of a satellite is the antennas. If we could compare a satellite with a human, the antennas are “the eyes and the ears”. You can easily understand that without the antennas, a satellite cannot communicate with nobody and after all has not a reason to exist!

Here at REVOLVE we are doing research around antennas for satellites as you may already know. Every one of us studies different aspects and technologies. In a very fundamental analysis, the antennas implemented and used on satellites can be categorized into two principal domains: the so called Focal Array Fed Reflectors and the Direct Radiating Antenna Arrays. In the first category belong the typical parabolic structures fed by the so called feed-antennas (usually horn antennas) which are more or less widely known, whereas in the second single antennas are formed in an array and they radiate themselves.

My subject of research concerns the feed antennas. These antennas are almost always the typical horn antennas, which are used many years now because of their great performance. Although they are described as feed antennas this might be a bit confusing or misleading as the same antennas could be used as direct radiating arrays without the presence of a reflector. In any case, my 3 year journey at REVOLVE will go through the different existing technologies around the feed antennas and we will try to find out how we could make them function better and in a more compact shape as the current solutions have a bulky profile.

At last, somebody might wonder…so what is it so important about it? There may be many things important that neither myself could even recognize, but as I mentioned earlier the satellites are big and complex structures so imagine how important would be if we could provide something smaller and lighter. Furthermore, think about that this “something” are the antennas which constitute a very basic and important part of a satellite and after all we are moving ahead to the 5G era and the next years a great increase in the multimedia usage and communication services is about to take place, so we need to confine with these rules.

Lens Antennas

Lens antennas are a very attractive solution in space applications because they can provide high directivity beams. A specific type of Lense is called a ‘graded index lense’. This type of antenna is composed of periodic structures that have variable refractive indexes and can convert spherical waves into plane waves. Thus, we can focus the beam and steer it. As the aim is to integrate this antenna into the satellite we also need to make it more compact as well as provide multiple beams to cover multiple countries. In addition to the multiple beams that we need to provide we also need to achieve isoflux radiation pattern in the multibeam antenna. Practically, this type of pattern means that if we want to cover a country that is in the direct path of the satellite we need less gain than a country which is placed some angles from the satellite. Ideally, a 3D graded index Lens would be the best candidate for LEO and GEO satellites because we will be able to steer the beam in both E and H planes and thus cover multiple countries.

Well, I believe that some of these technical expressions might be tough to understand but when you begin to understand the meaning you can begin to be more interested in the space domain and the antennas. Talking to young students that are in high schools and in the universities, I would like to encourage them to become involved in space engineering and electromagnetics and my job will be to simplify the meanings. After that you will really the subject and be more passionate with it.