European Space Agency Uses Keysight Analyzer for Evaluating Radar Antennas Used to Explore Jupiter's Icy Moons

Keysight Technologies, FieldFox handheld RF analyzer was used in the evaluation of the impedance of the radar antenna for icy moons exploration (RIME), a key component of one of the ten science payloads of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Jupiter icy moons explorer (JUICE) spacecraft scheduled for launch in 2022.

RIME engineers performed phase-matching and orientation tests of the RIME antenna in Heiligenberg, Germany in September 2017. They also evaluated two radar antennas, one was aluminum and the other, a carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP), which will be used on the spacecraft. The antennas were housed on a satellite-sized enclosure, and the enclosure was lifted 300 meters in the air by helicopter to ensure low-RF coupling to the ground.

Keysight’s FieldFox handheld RF analyzer was used in remote mode to measure S-parameter characteristics of the antenna in flight as it was rotated more than 180 degrees and with the spacecraft mock-up being maneuvered by helicopter. Test data was recovered at a base station on the ground via a wireless link between the FieldFox and the ground base station.

According to lead principal investigator Lorenzo Bruzzone, the test was a fundamental step towards understanding the behavior of the real antenna that will ultimately allow them to perform highly accurate measurements of radar echoes reflected from the deep subsurface of Jupiter icy moons.

The Keysight FieldFox family provides a choice of 22 combination (combo) and spectrum analyzer models with frequency coverage from DC to 50 GHz and users can configure combo models to include spectrum analyzer, VNA, CAT, RTSA and more. All models offer benchtop precision and are MIL-Class 2 rugged.