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Knitted satellite antenna for outer space

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Researchers from the Advanced Textiles Research Group (ATRG) are knitting antenna reflectors from high performance gold wire to help send and receive radio signals in orbit. The project – in collaboration with space technology business Oxford Space Systems – is centred on the antennas being lightweight and deployable.

The aim is for the knitted antenna to open like an umbrella and form a parabolic shape to reflect high frequency radio signals.  “Few people associate knitting with high-end space technology,” said project lead Professor Tilak Dias, Head of the ATRG in Nottingham Trent’s School of Art & Design. The wire, which is less than half a millimetre thick, is gold-plated to make it more resistant to the harsh operational environment of space. By using advanced knitting techniques, the researchers aim to produce membrane-like structures that can be shaped into 3D parabolas resembling the ideal reflector antenna geometry.