Robert L. Tjoelker, Eric A. Burt, Angela R. Dorsey, Todd A. Ely, Daphna G. Enzer, Da Kuang, David W. Murphy, John D. Prestage, David Robison, Jill Seubert, Rabi Wang; Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology.

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Abstract:

The Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC), a NASA Technology Demonstration Mission (TDM) of a mercury ion clock [1,2,3], was launched into low-Earth orbit on June 25, 2019 as a hosted payload aboard General Atomics’ Orbital Test Bed (OTB) spacecraft. The DSAC mission has recently completed a planned two-year space demonstration and characterized space-based clock performance to validate its utility for future deep space navigation and radio science applications. As a technology demonstrator, the DSAC TDM focused on ion clock technology maturation, space operability, and system design trades as opposed to achieving the ultimate form factor and stability. Developments towards further Size, Weight, and Power (SWaP) reduction, increased life, and manufacturing simplicity are underway in preparation for DSAC’s successor, DSAC-2, recently selected by NASA for demonstration on the upcoming VERITAS mission to Venus. This presentation will present DSAC TDM results and plans going forward. [1] R. L. Tjoelker et al., “Mercury Ion Clock for a NASA Technology Demonstration Mission,” IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, vol. 63, no. 7, 2016 [2] T. A. Ely, E. A. Burt, J. D. Prestage, J. M. Seubert, and R. L. Tjoelker, “Using the Deep Space Atomic Clock for Navigation and Science,” IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, vol. 65, no. 6, pp. 950–961, Jun. 2018 [3] E. A. Burt et al., “Demonstration of a trapped-ion atomic clock in space,” Nature, vol. 595, no. 7865, pp. 43–47, 2021