Metrology of reflector antennas: A historical review
Radio Science Bulletin
The emergence of radio astronomy, space research, and satellite communication after World War II created great activity in the design and construction of refl ector antennas of increasing size and precision, compared to the small radar antennas of the war period. With few exceptions, the refl ectors consisted of a set of panels, typically a few square meters in size, that were supported on a backup structure. To be an eff ective refl ector, the shape needs to obey the prescribed contour with a
... recision of about onetwentieth of the shortest operational wavelength. This was achieved with the aid of a continuously improving array of metrology methods, from the original geodetic theodolitetape to current laser-trackers, digital photogrammetry, and radio holography. We review the historical development by summarizing the diff erent methods and illustrating their applications with examples, mainly from the fi eld of radio astronomy. It is here where the largest and most precise refl ectors have been installed, and metrology has been pushed to a level where a refl ector of 100 m diameter can be realized with a surface error of about 250 μm, and a 12 m diameter submillimeter telescope with an error of about 10 μm. The reference list is not exhaustive: it covers major papers of a general nature and detailed descriptions of the examples presented in the text. Table 1 provides a list of the acronyms used in the paper.