Space-based RF Emitter Detection and Localization Using Field Programmable Gate Arrays

Period of Performance: 04/30/2014 - 02/02/2015


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Rincon Research Corporation
101 North Wilmot Road
Tucson, AZ 85711
Principal Investigator


Satellite communications are increasingly vulnerable to radio frequency (RF) jamming due to availability of satellite operations information and reduced RF equipment cost. The Air Force seeks a trade study into how a constellation of 5-kg, 10x10x30-cm CubeSats can be used to detect and geolocate RF transmitters operating in the satellite X/Ku/K/Ka/Q frequency communication bands. RRC, together with our teammate USU/SDL, will 1) explore conceptual mission designs and deployment operations of constellations of CubeSats for detecting and geolocating satellite communication interferers through trade studies across mission requirements, collector orbits, and potential CubeSat capabilities; 2) develop conceptual designs of smart wideband antennas suitable for the most likely deployment operations; 3) parallelize an algorithm for 3D terrain-aided geolocation on the Virtex-6 FPGA; and 4) demonstrate dynamic CubeSat sensor management in NASA GMAT. This study will give the Air Force a clear understanding of the costs and benefits associated with using a CubeSat constellation to geolocate interferers operating in the satellite communication bands.