Chip scale atomic clock for space

14th June 2018
Alex Lynn

The SA.45s Commercial Space Chip Scale Atomic Clock (CSAC) has been announced by Microsemi Corporation, a commercially available radiation-tolerant CSAC. Suited for low Earth orbit (LEO) applications, the device provides the accuracy and stability of atomic clock technology while achieving reduced size, weight and power (SWaP) consumption.

As the newest member of Microsemi’s CSAC product family, the Commercial Space CSAC provides drift performance and built-in one pulse per second (PPS) input for GPS disciplining, making the device suited for holdover applications. It is targeted at several other commercial space and space research applications, including: satellite timing and frequency control, satellite cross linking, assured position, navigation and timing, and Earth observation.

With many spacecraft manufacturers turning to commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) parts to meet performance, schedule and cost requirements, the Commercial Space CSAC aims to offer a solution for satellite missions.

“With the introduction of the Commercial Space CSAC, we now offer a space-deployable atomic precision clock reference with radiation tolerance in support of the space market’s desire to reduce mission costs and design times using COTS devices,” said Peter Cash, Director of the Clock Business unit at Microsemi. “As the first atomic reference clock with low SWaP available for space, our new device is well-suited to applications requiring precise clock synchronisation, including a variety of existing and emerging LEO applications.”

According to a market intelligence report by Euroconsult titled, “Satellites to be Built & Launched by 2026 World Market Survey,” the total revenue for satellite manufacture and launch is expected to be $304bn from 2017-2026. With revenues of $102bn, LEO is expected to account for a third of the total market, with 82% derived from satellite manufacturing.

As a stand-alone atomic clock with a 10MHz CMOS-compatible output, Microsemi’s Commercial Space CSAC is a timing module providing an impressive short-term stability (Allan Deviation) and frequency stability across the operating temperature (TempCo). A standard CMOS-level RS-232 serial interface is built into the device, which is used to control and calibrate the unit and provide a comprehensive set of status monitors. The interface is also used to set and read the CSAC’s precise internal time-of-day clock. Microsemi’s radiation-tolerant ruggedised oscillators also include OCXOs and state-of-the art EMXOs for applications that require higher accuracy and can support higher power consumption.

Microsemi’s radiation-tolerant SA.45s Commercial Space CSAC is available for purchase orders now.

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