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ISRO to test space robustness of indigenous atomic clocks this December

The robustness of the indigenous atomic clocks developed by the ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) will be known when one of the clocks developed at the Ahmedabad’s Space Application Centre (SAC) will be sent to outerspace in December, this year. The Indian space agency ISRO currently depends upon imported atomic clocks that helps navigational satellites measure precise locations.”

Atomic clocks are considered to be the most stable of clocks today. These clocks are made by only three or four companies in the world. This technology is very restrictive we had to import it. Now, we have started making it,” said Tapan Misra, director of SAC at the sidelines of National Technology Day celebrations organised at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Exhibition centre on Wednesday.

“The first model which is called the qualification model is currently in the testing-review phase…. By December this year we plan to send one of these clocks along with three others mounted on a satellite. Usually, three atomic clocks go with every satellite. We will be sending four, wherein the fourth one will be the one we have developed indigenously. This will help us to see how robust is our technology. The real proof of its success can be guaged by seeing how it actually functions in space,” Misra added.

The clock will be mounted on a satellite once ISRO’s Quality Assurance Group provides it with the necessary certification. However, the SAC director did not disclose the cost of the imported clocks and possible savings for ISRO once the indigenous atomic clocks take place of the imported ones. The atomic clocks were in news recently after few of them on ISRO’s IRNSS (Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System) failed.

Talking about the IRNSS system which is expected to replace the GPS system, Misra said that ISRO has already developed a “device” to help some of the government agencies use the IRNSS navigation. “These devices are slighting costlier, but has more precision. In the next phase, we are trying to incorporate this technology in the mobiles,” Misra said adding that the IRNSS is being used by ISRO for PSLV guidance along with GPS since the last one year.

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