Large antenna testing just got easier

Portable Antenna Measurement System at work
14 November 2013

The Portable Antenna Measurement System is set to provide an ingenious solution to the difficulties faced when testing large antennas.

Antennas continue to grow in size and frequency range, placing increasing demands on traditional antenna testing sites. It is difficult and expensive to build dedicated test sites or move large antenna farms and reflector mesh antennas to those sites. The test sites are also now required to accommodate increasingly large pieces of test equipment.

In response to this, Astrium GmbH, supported by ESA’s Advanced Research in Telecommunication Systems (ARTES) programme, has come up with an entirely new approach. If you cannot bring the antenna to the test site, or your site is not big enough, then take the testing equipment to the antenna.

PAMS

The result is the Portable Antenna Measurement System, or PAMS, which takes the form of a gondola suspended from the existing cranes within a satellite or antenna assembly hall. It takes about eight hours to set up and around two hours to dismantle.

The crane and gondola approach transforms existing facilities into a ground-breaking antenna measurement system with a range of features that meets the current and future needs of the stringent requirements of the satcom sector. The flexible system could also be used for verifying antenna performance during manufacture or even at launch sites during satellite assembly and testing.

The current prototype will be put to work in a demonstration facility at the Astrium Antenna Test Centre in Munich, Germany.

Massimiliano Simeoni, ESA’s Payload Engineer, explained, “PAMS is a landmark in near-field antenna measurement. With this new system, the market has a solution to many of the major logistical difficulties for antenna testing and verification.”

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