A metamaterial-inspired approach to mitigating radio frequency blackout when a plasma forms around a reentry vehicle

Bruce A. Webb, Richard W. Ziolkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Radio frequency (RF) blackout and attenuation have been observed during atmospheric reentry since the advent of space exploration. The effects range from severe attenuation to complete loss of communications and can last from 90 s to 10 min depending on the vehicle’s trajectory. This paper examines a way of using a metasurface to improve the performance of communications during reentry. The technique is viable at low plasma densities and matches a split-ring resonator (SRR)-based mu-negative (MNG) sheet to the epsilon-negative (ENG) plasma region. Considering the MNG metasurface as a window to the exterior of a reentry vehicle, its matched design yields high transmission of an electromagnetic plane wave through the resulting MNG-ENG metastructure into the region beyond it. A varactor-based SRR design facilitates tuning the MNG layer to ENG layers with different plasma densities. Both simple and Huygens dipole antennas beneath a matched metastructure are then employed to demonstrate the consequent realization of significant signal transmission through it into free space beyond the exterior ENG plasma layer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number88
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalPhotonics
Volume7
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Keywords

  • Antennas
  • Communications
  • Metamaterials
  • Plasmas
  • Propagation
  • Reentry vehicles
  • RF blackout

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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