GIOVE-A, the first Galileo in-orbit validation element, was launched on 28 December 2005. One of its two rubidium clocks was switched on for the first time on 10 January 2006 and Galileo signals were transmitted two days later.
The timekeeping of the clocks on the Galileo spacecraft will play an important role in determining the overall accuracy of the system, so evaluation of their performance is a crucial part of the Galileo in-orbit verification process.
The orbit of GIOVE-A is precisely measured by a network of 10 ground-based laser ranging stations, to provide orbital data independent of the navigation data. The navigation signals broadcast from GIOVE-A, and from the GPS spacecraft constellation, are received by the world-wide network of 13 Galileo experimental sensor stations belonging to the GIOVE Mission Segment.
The technique used to characterise clock performance is known as Orbit Determination and Time Synchronisation (ODTS). ODTS is a statistical method which takes the Galileo and GPS data, together with the laser ranging data, and calculates spacecraft orbits, clock times, the effects of the Earth’s atmosphere on the radio signals and the delays in the receiving systems. The precision of the calculations is so great that even the tiny orbit disturbances caused by the pressure of sunlight shining on the satellites is taken into account.
The ground systems cannot measure the ‘pure’ clock performance on-board GIOVE-A. The ‘apparent’ clock performance observed on the ground is seen through the satellite signal generation chain, the radio transmission path through space, the receiver network and the algorithm used to perform the performance estimation.
Performance to date
Comparisons between the on-board clocks and identical units undergoing on-ground life testing show that no unexpected ageing or performance degradation is occurring due to the space environment. Extrapolation of performance measurements for limited-life components such as the rubidium lamps shows that they will easily exceed the required 12-year operational lifetime.
The measured performance of the clocks meets the specification over short and medium timescales. A few ‘jumps’ in clock frequency have been observed, which impact the long term accuracy. Such frequency changes are a well known phenomenon in rubidium clock technology but their cause is not yet well understood. Their effect on GPS performance has already been analysed and corrective measures proposed. The Galileo team are ground testing a number of improvements to the clock design which are intended to minimise both the occurrence and size of the jumps.
Galileo is a joint initiative between ESA and the European Commission. When fully deployed in the early years of the next decade, it will be the first civilian positioning system to offer global coverage.
Dominique Detain | alfa
Supercomputing the emergence of material behavior
18.05.2018 | University of Texas at Austin, Texas Advanced Computing Center
Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss
18.05.2018 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.
The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...
Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.
Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...
A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.
Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
18.05.2018 | Information Technology
18.05.2018 | Information Technology