Israeli company Accubeat announced Monday that it has delivered an Ultra Stable Oscillator (USO) that will be integrated into a European spacecraft scheduled to take off in 2022 for an eight-year journey to Jupiter, where the device is expected to play a key role in the spacecraft's exploration of the giant planet and its moons. Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system.
AccuBeat supplied the USO to Airbus Defense and Space, which is building the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) spacecraft for the European Space Agency. AccuBeat’s device will serve as the central source of timing in the mission and will be part of a radio science occultation experiment headed by Professor Yohai Kaspi and Dr. Eli Galanti from the Weizmann Institute in collaboration with Professor Luciano Less from the Radio Science laboratory in Rome University, AccuBeat said.
The Jerusalem-based company is a designer and manufacturer of exceedingly accurate frequency and timing solutions and products suitable for aerospace, defense, telecommunications, research and other applications.
The JUICE probe, a flagship project of the European Space Agency, is scheduled to set off in May 2022 on an almost 600-million-km journey to Jupiter, where it is expected to arrive in 2030. According to the plan, the spacecraft will sweep around the giant planet for three and a half years, exploring its turbulent atmosphere, enormous magnetosphere, and tenuous set of dark rings, as well as studying its three largest icy moons - Europa, Ganymede and Callisto - all with the help of AccuBeat’s USO designed for deep space exploration. "The goal is to investigate whether there are liquid oceans under these icy crusts which might harbor organic components or even life," said Vincent Poinsignon, the JUICE project manager.
AccuBeat’s USO is a high-stability quartz crystal oscillator utilizing a high Q crystal resonator and high temperature stability in the range of 100µ kelvin. The USO designed by AccuBeat, in cooperation with the Israeli Space Agency, has an Allan Deviation substantially better than the required spec of 5E-13 at integration constants of 1 to 1000 seconds, making it the most stable oscillator of its type designed for deep space exploration. The USO has been designed to meet this specification while subjected to demanding EMC effects and the harsh environment around Jupiter with radiation levels reaching as high as 100kRad on some internal components, according to the company.
Jupiter, as photographed in February 2019. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill