Expanding “Spacescape” Impacting Oscillator Selection Criteria

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  • Author: Scott Sentz and Joshua Navarrete

High performance crystal oscillators have bee n
and will remain a mainstay in orbital satel
lite applications. The spacescape – the
range or orbits where satellites reside
s not a uniform environment. Geosynchronous (GEO) and Medium-altitude
(MEO) satellites are often valued in the
tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars and have a life expectancy of decades.As such, these very expensive systems demand
maximum reliability for all components.
LEO satellite clusters, in contrast, are
made up of hundreds of far less expen
sive devices with life spans measured
in years. In many of these applications,
full space-qualified components are
 unnecessary and far too expensive.

This paper will delve into the questions of what constitutes
a “space-qualified” crystal oscillator and what differences
there are based on spacescape location. The paper will
also attempt to address the question of the applicability
of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) crystal oscillators and
micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) oscillators versus
New Space crystal oscillators in emerging satellite constel
lation applications.

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