2018 PTTI Distinguished Service Award

Presented to: Dr. Robert L. Tjoelker

Citation: For systems engineering and technical leadership in the successful delivery of major PTTI systems to NASA’s Deep Space Network, including trapped-ion atomic clocks.

Robert Tjoelker

Dr. Robert L. Tjoelker currently supervises the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Frequency and Timing Advanced Instrument Development Group, and is a principal member of the technical staff. He and his group are responsible for frequency and timing research and development leading to new capabilities for the NASA Deep Space Network (DSN) and spaceflight. He has made multiple contributions to the realization of operable ultra-stable mercury trapped ion frequency standards for NASA and the DoD, and is currently a co-investigator for NASA’s Deep Space Atomic Clock Mission, the first space demonstration of mercury trapped ion clock technology.

Dr. Tjoelker manages NASA’s DSN Frequency and Timing Subsystem (FTS) and serves as the FTS system engineer. In these capacities, he has led teams in the development of several major PTTI systems that must be extremely reliable, while maintaining precision and stability performance near the state-of-the-art. Major DSN FTS subsystems developed and delivered into the DSN FTS include atomic frequency standards, the DSN frequency reference selection/synthesis system, the DSN master clock and timing system, ultra-stable photonic link-based signal distribution systems, and frequency and timing measurement and calibration systems.

Dr. Tjoelker has published more than 100 papers in the areas of fundamental constants and atomic physics, precision trapped ion mass spectrometry, atomic frequency standards, and frequency and timing systems. He is a member of ION, the American Physical Society, the International Telecommunication Union USWP-7A and the IEEE Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control Society. He has served in multiple capacities in support of the ION Precise Time and Time Interval (PTTI) Systems and Applications Meeting and the IEEE International Frequency Control Symposium.

Dr. Tjoelker received degrees in architecture, physics, and mathematics from the University of Washington and a PhD degree in Physics from Harvard University for a precision comparison of the proton and antiproton mass.