Johns Hopkins APL, NASA Form Search & Rescue Antenna Modernization Partnership

Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory has partnered with NASA to develop a phased-array antenna for the agency’s search-and-rescue satellite infrastructure at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

The prototyping initiative comes as part of NASA’s efforts to update its SAR antenna systems that work to detect distress signals from satellites and relay them to SAR authorities including the U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard, APL said Friday.

Chris Dura, a project engineer for APL, said GSFC’s Medium Earth Orbit Local User Terminal system is comprised of six reflector antennas and a mission control center that process signals to be transmitted to rescue coordination centers through the international Cospas-Sarsat Program.

APL will contribute its digital antenna concept that features an expanded capacity for beam formation and consolidates the operations of NASA’s legacy SAR antennas.

Since 2014, APL’s Air and Missile Defense Sector has been developing digital array technologies in partnership with entities such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for various applications including electronic warfare and advanced radar systems.

The NASA-APL team expects to install the prototype digital antenna at the agency’s SAR Lab by fall 2021.

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