Saturday, December 22, 2007


Ridiculously large expanding antenna

Just some idea to throw out there for any future scientists or researchers that may ever happen upon this information... Here's a discription for a ridiculously large expanding antenna:

Make panels out of a reflective, lightweight, and highly flexible material. Something like mylar, if not actually mylar. Each panel would represent a small section of a parabolic dish reflector that could be in a standard orbit, or maybe even a lagrange point. These panels would be collapsed after construction and until their placement in orbit. Once the panels reach their destination they would be expanded back to the original form and then put into place and attached to form the dish. Expansion of the panels would involve inflatable tubes or ridges in their construction. Not much gas would be needed to provide the inflation pressure, since space is nearly a vacuum. (This type of technology is already in use by some orbiting satellites by the way, but I've got an extra feature added - which is immediately next.) The design of these panels would also anticipate the possible deformation caused by gas leak out in the future. Thus the solution to this would be to include capsules along the ridges that contain parts of a self reacting epoxy polymer. Sometime just before the panel reaches the full expansion size, the capsules are designed to break. Thus coating the inside of the inflatable ridge structures with an epoxy. That way they maintain ridigity even without the gas and hold taut the reflective membrane. It may be possible that attachment of the panels to each other could use the same epoxy technology.

But the idea is that using such structures, you could put an automated system that could assemble a radio dish that easily dwarfs the Aricebo one. Even better yet, imagine the resolving power that an array of these things could produce if ever coordinated somehow.

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