NASA brings an end to the atomic clock that could change spaceflight
The atomic clock has been successfully activated to pave the way for deep space exploration. It was confirmed by the clock’s mission team on August, 23. It was first launched in June 2019 and now, NASA’s Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC) has now started orbiting around the Earth.
It has now started with a tech demo which will be a year long. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory developed the mercury-ion atomic clock. It might one day, even support traveling far out into the cosmos with the help of autonomous spacecraft.
Atomic clocks are responsible for measuring the distance between objects by timing how long it takes for a signal to travel from one object to the other. For example, a pendulum clock keeps time by counting the number of ticks. On the other hand, an atomic clock keeps time with a different type of resonator.
GPS satellites take the support of atomic clocks to let people navigate on Earth. NASA is in great hopes that the atomic clock will provide support to crewless spacecraft to lead to deep space destinations.
“The objective of the space investigation is to put the Deep Space Atomic Clock with regards to a working rocket. Complete with the things that affect the stability and efficiency of a clock — and see if it performs at the level we think it will: with orders of magnitude more stable than existing space clocks,” navigator Todd Ely, Ely, head specialist of the task at JPL, said in an announcement.
Although this atomic clock is being tested for crewless spacecraft it is expected that one day, it will also be available for crewed missions to be conducted into deep space. The team behind this atomic clock believes that it will be helpful for the astronauts as they will be able to navigate themselves.