Quantic Wenzel frequency synthesizer to support NASA’s Europa Clipper

07 September 2023

Quantic Wenzel, a Texas-based innovator of crystal oscillators, frequency sources and integrated microwave assemblies, has completed delivery of a space-qualified frequency synthesizer assembly for NASA’s Europa Clipper mission. Scheduled to launch in 2024, the spacecraft will orbit Jupiter to perform a detailed exploration of Europa – a moon that shows evidence for an ocean of liquid water beneath its icy crust and could host conditions suitable for life.

Europa Clipper developmental test model. Source: NASA/JPL-CaltechEuropa Clipper developmental test model. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Our support of the Europa Clipper mission is another exciting step in our work with JPL [NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory],” said Jigar Shah, director of business development at Quantic Wenzel. “Wenzel is widely known as a company that radio frequency (RF) engineers come to when they need to solve their unique frequency reference and timing challenges for space applications.”

Europa Clipper will carry instrumentation that can look directly into the moon’s icy shell. It is called the Radar for Europa Assessment and Sounding: Ocean to Near-surface, or REASON. REASON will use radio waves to penetrate Europa’s ice as much as 18 miles deep. It will search for the moon’s suspected ocean, measure ice thickness, and study the ice’s internal structure, including any internal water bodies that may connect the surface and the ocean.

Working closely with JPL in Southern California, which manages the mission, Quantic Wenzel engineered and manufactured a custom, space-qualified frequency synthesizer assembly. The assembly consists of a single stable local oscillator that generates the reference frequencies for all the instrument timing signals. Quantic Wenzel recently celebrated its 30th year supporting space RF/microwave applications.

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