The Next Falcon Heavy will carry the Most Powerful Atomic Clock ever launched in Space

The Next Falcon Heavy will carry the Most Powerful Atomic Clock ever launched in Space

First Deep Space Atomic Clock will be sent to outer space through the second flight of Falcon heavy, says NASA.

The first launch of Falcon Heavy took place on 6th February from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Despite the fact that one of its core missed the planned landing and smashed in the ocean, the launch was declared a success. It seemed very likely that SpaceX will have a lot of customers who would want to utilize the services of this rocket to carry out their business. This rocket has already been assigned a couple of missions by Arabsat 6A and US Air Force.

ArabSat 6A is a Saudi company and this mission will involve a communications satellite while the latter mission will involve a test payload for the testifying that this missile is suitable for national security. Having said this, the mission for next Falcon Heavy is to transport the most powerful atomic clock to space.

Atomic Clocks are the most powerful devices humans have built to measure time. The working mechanisms of these clocks give them their name as well as the accuracy they possess. They work by observing atoms and the functions they perform. A common example in this regard is that atoms emit light regularly and quickly. These clocks count how many times atoms do that.

The most powerful atomic clock can count time for billions of years without missing a single second. Andrew Good who is a representative of Jet Propulsion Laboratory notified Live Science via an email that first Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC) will be sent to outer space through the second flight of Falcon heavy. The journey will take place in June. NASA also confirmed this by saying that,

“An ultra-precise atomic clock, the size of a four-slice toaster is set to zip into the outer space this summer.”

This clock is much more advanced than the atomic clocks found on Earth. The size is much smaller and it is many times more precise than the atomic clocks sent in space before that. Furthermore, it is developed considering the atmospheric conditions of space. It can bear unusual gravitational forces and extremely low temperatures. It also has the resilience to counter the stressful traveling experience.

Talking about the precision of this clock, it is expected to lose 2 nanoseconds a day at worse. This means that maximum 7 milliseconds will be wasted over the period of a decade. This fantastic feature helped it to enter the list of 5 most precise clocks of all time.

The significance of measuring time is immense. The entire science relies on this assumption that the readings obtained with respect to time are precise. All the experiments related with speed are heavily dependent on this factor. Similarly, there are many other fields where time holds key importance in yielding an accurate result. Global Positioning System (GPS) is one such example.

The entire network is based on the principle that the time needed by radio signals to move around is measured precisely. These atomic clocks help spaceships in the outer space to determine their location. Radio Signals are first sent to ground stations where scientists examine the time taken by those signals by making use of atomic clocks. Locations are traced accordingly before sending signals back about the next move of the spacecraft.

Any ground station has the potential to support only one spaceship and this can lead to a potential bottleneck that can have devastating effects. According to NASA, the purpose of this DSAC is to make this decision-making process possible in space so that instructions from Earth are not needed. This will make astronauts calculate the time on their own and unnecessary pauses for determining course will be omitted.  The technology used for this clock is quite latest considering it came up for the first time in 2006. It measures the behavior of a trapped, laser-cooled mercury ion. It ticks faster than cesium atoms that were used previously.

NASA has already cleared the air about its size by saying that it can diminish further in the future. They also claimed that it can be used to improve the currently working GPS. The test duration of this atomic clock is expected to be about a year-long after which its performance will be analyzed.

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