In one of its most recent breakthrough, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have achieved a remarkable accomplishment by developing world’s first next-gen atomic clock for guiding astronauts in the space.
Timekeeping has always been essential for making a space mission precisely accomplished, and navigation plays a pivotal role in timekeeping of spaceships. Up to now, scientists have been using a ‘two-way’ method for navigating and tracking the ships. But soon, NASA is going to change its path of tracking spacecraft with the two-way method, as it has developed a revolutionary “one-way” method for the same.
In a remarkable advancement, the engineers at NASA’s California-based Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena have developed a new next-gen atomic clock, called “Deep Space Atomic Clock”, which will aid future manned deep space exploration missions. It is a one-way method that will enable scientists to track the spaceships in real-time, without sending back signals to Earth.
Up to now, NASA has been using the two-way method for tracing the spacecraft. From a ground-based antenna, NASA used to send signals to the onboard spaceships and wait for the return of the signal. Once the signals come back to earth, scientists measure the distance and time of the signal intervals, following which they estimate the position of probes in the space.
But the new ground-breaking atomic clock will enable the scientists a one-way method for locating the spacecraft and navigating it on the right track. According to NASA, “Deep Space Atomic Clock is highly sophisticated, lighter, smaller, and more precise than any other navigational clock. The Deep Space Atomic Clock will make the tracking measurements much easier and real-time than ever before.”
According to NASA, the next-generation atomic clock will allow a ‘one-way’ spacecraft tracking, where scientists will be able to mark out the spacecraft without sending the signal back to Earth. The measurements could be done onboard and later processed with a spacecraft-based direction-finding structure to find out the alleyway and if any manoeuvre needs to keep on the course or not. The development will be a crucial breakthrough for the safe navigation of the future human exploration missions, implemented for exploring the solar system. It will also provide astronauts with the precise information about their position and speed whenever they need it, NASA said.