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COMPACT ULTRA-HIGH STABILITY ATOMIC CLOCK FOR SPACE APPLICATIONS

ESA Open Invitation To Tender AO8489
Open Date: 25/11/2015
Closing Date: 03/02/2016

Status: ISSUED
Reference Nr.: 15.1ET.10
Prog. Ref.: GSTP Period 6 E1 PRJ
Budget Ref.: E/0904-611 - GSTP Period 6 E1 PRJ
Special Prov.: DE+CH
Tender Type: C
Price Range: > 500 KEURO
Establishment: ESTEC
Directorate: Directorate of Technical & Quality Manag
Department: Electrical Engineering Department
Division: RF Payload Systems Division
Contract Officer: Karl, Heinz-Uwe
Last Update Date: 02/12/2015
Update Reason: Loaded a new Clarification(English version)

Today, the GNSS clock error requirements are comfortably met with the current on-board atomic clock technologies (Rubidium Atomic Frequency Standard (RAFS) and Passive Hydrogen Maser (PHM)) whose parameters are refreshed every 100min to 1 day. In the future, it is expected that similar (or improved) error requirements will be required, combined with increased autonomy (up to 15 days) without external intervention. While some techniques are being investigated to address these challenges (e.g. inter-satellite links, clock ensemble..), it is expected that new clock technology with improved short- and long-term stability and compact design can be equally beneficial. It is further expected that clocks with such performance will also significantly improve deep-space navigation through the use of one-way ranging. In the last years, several atomic clock studies have demonstrated that it is possible to achieve improvedfrequency stability performances within a potentially much more compact design. Identified clock technologies are based on the interrogation of either trapped ions (cf. STRIN contract 4000104532)or atoms in the microwave domain. Improved stability is obtained thanks to either increased Q-factor (trapped ions) or augmented signal-to-noise ratio (atoms). All those studies have demonstrated the potential to reach a frequency stability (in terms of Allan Deviation) of few parts in 10^15 over one day, with mass-power budget that is comparable (or even reduced) as compared with existing technologies. The proposed activity will be dedicated to the design, manufacture and test of a compact atomic clock to address the future needs of on-board GNSS and deepspace navigation. A full breadboard shall be manufactured and tested. Recommendations and plans for further development shall be proposed.

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