Apex in Space!

As Apex continues to support future missions and applications in space, we want to take a moment to highlight some of the notable missions that Apex has been onboard over the past decade.

Apex's Radiation Tolerant Devices

We are thrilled to announce our highly anticipated radiation-tolerant product portfolio launching in 2024. After extensive research and development, Apex is proud to bring a range of devices to serve the space market and applications with demanding radiation environments. The Apex rad-tolerant portfolio will feature the following devices:


Supply Voltage MAX (V)

Output Current Continuous (peak) (A) Slew Rate TYP (V/µs) Quiescent Current max (mA)  Power Dissipation max (W) Package
PA08R 300 0.15 (0.2) 30 8.5 17.5 8-pin TO-3 (CE)
PA07R 100 5 5 30 67 8-pin TO-3 (CE)
PA12R 100 10 (15) 4 50 125 8-pin TO-3 (CE)
PA74R 40 3 (x2 channels) 1.4 40 36 per channel/60 total 8-pin TO-3 (CE)
PA02R 38 5 20 40 48 8-pin TO-3 (CE)

Following the initial launch, Apex will continue to bring our cutting-edge technology to space. Our ongoing initiatives will include the expansion of our rad-tolerant portfolio, with future plans to introduce rad-tolerant variations of our silicon carbide (SiC) integrated power modules

Apex Microtechnology's radiation tolerant "R" grade devices are tested to maintain operability after exposure to certain levels of radiation. Apex's rad-tolerant devices include radiation data for HDR, ELDRS, and SEE testing in addition to TID lot traceability and PIND data. The rad-tolerant devices will be accompanied by a complete radiation report. 

For more information about Apex radiation tolerant "R" grade devices or for additional radiation testing capabilities offered by Apex, please fill out our Radiation Tolerant inquiry form.  

As Apex continues to support future missions and applications in space, we want to take a moment to highlight some of the notable missions that Apex has been onboard over the past decade. 

James Webb Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) launched on Christmas day, 2021, and has proven itself as the most powerful space telescope constructed to date. The telescope's mission is to probe the cosmos and uncover some of the universe's biggest mysteries. After 30 days and a million miles of travel, the JWST reached Lagrange point 2 (A gravitationally stable location in space), which is a popular home for other space telescopes such as the Herschel Space Telescope and the Planck Space Observatory. Since reaching L2, the JWST has begun capturing extraordinary images like the one seen below. 

Tarantula Nebula Photographed by JWST 

"Tarantula Nebula" photographed by JWST (Credit: NASA) 

According to NASA, the James Webb Space Telescope will focus on the following four mission goals:

  • Searching the first galaxies or luminous objects formed after the Big Bang.
  • Determine how galaxies evolved from their formation until now.
  • Observe the formation of stars from the first stages to the formation of planetary systems.
  • Measure the physical and chemical properties of planetary systems, including our own Solar System, and investigate the potential for life in those systems.

The JWST comes equipped with multiple instruments that enable observations in visible, near infrared, and mid-infrared wavelengths. Among these instruments in the JWST's complex mirror system is the Optical Telescope Element (OTE), which is constructed using a combination of primary, secondary, tertiary, and fine steering mirrors. The 3-mirror anastigmatic design collects and focuses the light for the OTE and is monitored and actively controlled. A 4th flat mirror is used, named the Fine Steering Mirror (FSM), which is used for precision pointing, delicate stabilization, and minute offset maneuvers.

The Fine Steering Mirror is where Apex is proud to service, incorporating our power operational amplifier, PA74, as the driving force behind a piezo application that allows for precision stabilization and accuracy of the mirror. During observations, the mirror is continuously adjusted via measurements made by the attitude control system as part of the fine guidance control loop. The FSM system requires incredibly precise movements performed at high frequency throughout the mission's duration. These requirements are well aligned with Apex's PA74 that specializes in driving high voltage, high current loads with extreme precision and low noise.

We look forward to witnessing the JWST's continued discovery of the unobserved formation of the first galaxies, as well as its survey of the dust clouds where stars and planetary systems are forming today. Apex is proud to be a part of this historic space mission that seeks to uncover the universe's biggest mysteries. To learn more about JWST, visit The James Webb Space Telescope NASA webpage.

NASA's Perseverance Rover

The Perseverance Rover was launched on July 20th, 2020, with the goal of searching for signs of ancient life and collecting samples of rock and regolith (broken rock and soil) on Mars and return them to Earth. The Rover's key objectives included: 

  • Explore a geologically diverse landing site.
  • Assess ancient habitability.
  • Seek signs of ancient life, particularly in special rocks known to preserve signs of life over time.
  • Gather rock and soil samples that could be returned to Earth by a future NASA mission.
  • Demonstrate technology for future robotic and human exploration.

Perseverance Rover Collecting a sample

NASA's Perseverance Rover collects a sample in this conceptual image. (Credit: NASA) 

The Rover came equipped with seven instruments well suited to take the first steps in addressing mankind's curiosity of the Red Planet and expand our abilities to exploration therein. These instruments included:

  • Mastcam-Z: An advanced camera system with panoramic and stereoscopic imaging zoom capability  
  • SuperCam: Instrument that can provide imaging, chemical composition analysis, and mineralogy from a distance.
  • Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL): An X-ray fluorescence spectrometer and high-resolution imager to map the fine-scale elemental composition of Martian Surface Materials.
  • The Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE): A technology demonstration that will produce oxygen from Martian atmospheric Carbon Dioxide.
  • Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA): A set of sensors that will provide measurements of temperature, wind speed and direction, pressure, relative humidity, and dust size and shape.  
  • The Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment (RIMFAX): A ground-penetrating radar that will provide centimeter-scale resolution of the geologic structure of the subsurface.
  • Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC): A spectrometer that will provide fine-scale imaging and uses an ultraviolet (UV) laser to map mineralogy and organic compounds. SHERLOC will be the first UV Raman spectrometer to fly to the surface of Mars and will provide complementary measurements with other instruments in the payload. SHERLOC includes a high-resolution color camera for microscopic imaging of Mars’ surface.

Apex is proud that our commitment to quality in the design and manufacturing of our hi-rel power amplifiers allowed us to secure a position onboard the Perseverance Rover's SHERLOC instrument. The SHERLOC is mounted on the rover's robotic arm, using cameras, spectrometers, and a laser to enable humankind's search for organics and minerals that have been altered by watery environments and may contain signs of past microbial life. This instrument requires substantial amounts of power to control, which is why an Apex hi-rel power op amp was chosen. To learn more about the SHERLOC, visit the Perseverance Rover's science instruments webpage.

The Rover's mission began over 4 years ago in search for signs of ancient microbial life. Currently, the Rover has successfully collected 24 of the 38 different rock samples that it was tasked with collecting. As the Perseverance Rover continues to make groundbreaking discoveries, Apex is proud to be a part of the efforts to uncover the hidden truths of the Red Planet. To learn more about the Perseverance Rover and the treasured discoveries obtained so far, visit the mission's homepage.


The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) was developed with the goal of collecting extraterrestrial rock samples to return to Earth. Launched in 2016, OSIRIS-REx traveled to a near Earth asteroid called Bennu (1999 RQ36) to collect samples that will help scientists investigate how planets were formed and life began, as well as develop a deeper understanding of asteroids that could potentially impact Earth in the future. OSIRIS-REx's key objectives include:

  • O - Origins: Return and analyze samples of a carbon-rich asteroid to study the nature, history, and distribution of its minerals and organic material. 
  • SI - Spectral Interpretation: Define the global properties of a primitive carbon-rich asteroid to allow for direct comparison with existing ground-based telescopic data for all asteroids.
  • RI - Resource Identification: Map the global properties, chemistry, mineralogy of a carbon-rich asteroid to define its geologic and dynamic history and provide context for the returned sample.
  • S - Security: Measure the Yarkovsky Effect on Bennu and learn which asteroid properties contribute to this effect. The Yarkovsky Effect is the force caused by the emission of heat from a rotating asteroid that can change its orbit over time.
  • REx - Regolith Explorer: Document the texture, morphology, geochemistry, and spectral properties of the regolith (surface material) at the sampling site.

ORIRIS-REx approaches Bennu

OSIRIS-REx spacecraft descends toward Bennu in this conceptual image. (Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona) 

OSIRIS-REx comes equipped with a variety of science instruments for collecting samples and taking detailed images, as well as multiple cameras for navigation purposes. These instruments include: 

  • Touch and Go Camera System (TAGCAMS): For collecting rock and mineral samples from the asteroid's surface.
  • OSIRIS-REx Camera Suite (OCAMS): Consisting of a variety of cameras ranging from low-resolution grayscale to high-resolution full color. The full OCAMS suite is constructed of a SamCam, MapCam, and PolyCam. 
  • OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer (OTES): This spectrometer is for mapping the minerals found on Bennu.
  • OSIRIS-REx Visible and Infrared Spectrometer (OVIRS): For mapping Bennu's composition to guide sample site selection.
  • OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA): Laser ranging for measuring the 3D shape of Bennu. Working from a 50 to 7,000-meter range.
  • Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR): For measuring distance to Bennu during sampling.

Since the initial launch in 2016, OSIRIS-REx has met the mission requirements of collecting at least 2 ounces of material from the surface of Bennu. In 2021, OSIRIS-REx began its decent home, after orbiting the sun twice, and successfully returned the samples to Earth late last year. The mission concluded its primary objective with the safe retrieval of the sample. However, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft did not rest; instead, it set its eyes on Apophis, a near-Earth asteroid estimated to be 1,200 feet in diameter. The mission coincidentally named OSIRIS-APEX (OSIRIS-Apophis Explorer) will explore the physical changes of Apophis after its upcoming rare close encounter with Earth. Apex is honored to have supplied our high-performance op amp, PA12, for this groundbreaking mission in space exploration. We look forward to witnessing our device continue to assist in exploring the asteroids of our galaxy. To learn more about OSIRIS-REx, visit the mission's homepage

International Space Station

The International Space Station (ISS), originally launched into orbit in 1998, was developed with the goal of long-term research for human health. Since its launch in 1998, the ISS has experienced continuous improvements and additions to the instruments onboard in order to further explore our galaxy. The key objectives of the International Space Station include: 

  • Understand and protect our home planet through the improvement of predicting climate, weather, and natural hazards.
  • Explore the universe and search for signs of life.
  • Inspire the next generation of explorers.
  • Extend the duration and boundaries of human space flight to create new opportunities for exploration and discovery. 

The International Space Station

The International Space Station in Flight in this conceptual image. (Credit: NASA)

The International Space Station comes equipped with various instruments to support the following missions: 

  • Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI): For measuring Earth's vegetation by providing unprecedented views of even the remotest areas. GEDI's three lasers provide valuable data for weather forecasting.
  • ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS): For measuring the temperature of plants from space to monitor performance to climate changes. This data is used to track the changes in vegetation water stress affecting the carbon cycle. 
  • Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3): Provides data about the distribution of carbon dioxide as it relates to growing urban populations and the changing patterns of fossil fuel combustion. 
  • Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS): Detects the distribution and variability of lightning to advance our understanding of the nature and behavior of lightning and thunderstorms.
  • The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE III): For making accurate measurements of stratospheric ozone, aerosols, and water vapor in Earth's atmosphere.
  • The Total and Spectral Solar Irradiance Sensor (TSIS-1): Measures the Sun's energy input in relation to Earth and how the atmosphere responds to changes in the Sun's output.   

Apex is pleased to be onboard the International Space Station, providing robust and reliable devices integrated into the TSIS-1. Since its addition to the ISS in 2018, the TSIS-1 has enabled scientists to study the Earth's ozone layer, atmospheric circulation, clouds, and the ecosystem's reaction to the changes in the Sun's output. This instrument's capabilities allowed researchers to analyze data and change the modeled reflection and absorption of solar energy at the Earth's poles. This data showed significant differences in how much ice and water absorbed and reflected energy. To learn more about this discovery, view NASA's blog post. This is just one example of the capabilities offered by the TSIS-1, and Apex is proud to be a contributor to continuous space discovery.   

From enabling the precision stabilization of the Fine Steering Mirror on the JWST to supporting the search for signs of ancient life on Mars with the perseverance rover, Apex devices have demonstrated high reliability and exceptional performance in the most demanding environments. As we look to the future, Apex remains committed to expanding our rad-tolerant portfolio and supporting upcoming space missions that uncover the secrets of our atmosphere and beyond. 

See you in space!

- Apex Microtechnology 

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