COSMIAC has an extensive background in the areas of RF and satellite communications. The Center has three separate satellite ground stations.
The first is a three meter dish station utilizing the SHF frequency bands. The average nano-satellite in Low Earth Orbit has around three passes a day for 10 minutes each pass. The COSMIAC station is designed to recognize the arrival of a satellite. It then tracks the satellite and communicates with it during the pass. COSMIAC is currently utilizing this station to support the AFRL SPARC mission.
The second communications system is the Mobile CubeSat Command and Control (MC3) system. The MC3 is a Naval Postgraduate School organized system to provide communications support for military CubeSat missions. MC3 currently functions in the UHF frequency bands but research is ongoing to develop a unified S-Band capability.
The third station is a joint AFRL, UNM, Atlas Corporation which provides for a sixteen antenna phased aperture system operating in the x-band frequency range.
Above: Profile view of transmitter/receiver slant path from Sandia Mountain to COSMIAC/UNM to establish the first terrestrial link at 70/80 GHz
New research is also ongoing for systems such as Iridium and Globalstar. These commercial satellite systems provide an excellent alternative for nanosatellite development and operations.
New research is beginning that is a joint activity between AFRL, COSMIAC, and NASA Glenn. This research involves establishing a series of communications links at 72 GHZ and 82 GHZ between COSMIAC and the Sandia Crest to perform analysis on the effects of weather at these frequency bands.
Above: COSMIAC Ground Station