Common CubeSat Transmission Frequencies

The most common CubeSat transmission frequency is 437 MHz, which is in the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) band. It is often utilized because it is in the amateur radio frequency band, thus not requiring a special license to operate. Another reason for this is that the antenna can be relatively small.

Two other common transmission frequencies are 2.2 GHz, which is in the S-band, and 5.8 GHz, which is in the ISM band. A license is required to operate in these frequencies, which can take months or years to get. Transmitting in these frequencies may require more power, but they have some advantages. Sky background noise reaches its lowest level between 1 and 10 GHz, there is lower attenuation of the signal due to atmospheric phenomena in higher frequencies.

Common Antenna Types Utilized

One of the most common antennas used is the dipole antenna. A single dipole antenna can be utilized for both uplink and downlink. It has to be deployed after the satellite is in space. If only one element deploys, the antenna will still radiate.

Another widely utilized antenna is the patch antenna.  The satellite must be facing the Earth during transmission.  Two or more antennas may be required, which can take up a significant amount of space in the satellite’s surface, which might be needed for solar cells. They also have limited bandwidth, compared to other types of antennas. They don’t require deployment, as they are embedded in the satellite’s surface.