A new technology which could conduct to self-driving spacecraft is going to be launched later this month. The device is called ‘Deep Space Atomic Clock,’ and it is an innovative technology that NASA has been working on for more than twenty years.
NASA’s Deep Space Atomic Clock will launch on June 24th
The device will take off on the Orbital Test Bed satellite, which will be shipped to orbit together with 24 other military, government and research satellites embarked on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. The launch will take place on June the 24th, 2019. JPL scientists have been working on this technology for approximately two decades, developing it to ensure that it is 50 times more precise than GPS clocks and that it will be off by one second each ten million years.
Currently, spacecraft depend on a two-way system that has to send signals to and from atomic clocks based on Earth to identify where it is located and where it travels to. It utilizes the time that takes to report a signal and to get a response to measure for its location, trajectory, and speed. The process could take from a few minutes to several hours, in concordance with on how distant the spacecraft is from Earth. This is why scientists need a method that will enable astronauts to know their location and to change the trajectory quickly.
The revolutionary atomic clock would reshape space missions and GPS devices
The Deep Space Atomic Clock was created to live onboard a probe and to measure for its location and trajectory utilizing only signals it gets from Earth. What this means is that space crafts geared with this technology could direct itself. The device could design a network similar to a GPS in other locations as well, for instance, Mars, by having numerous probes fitted with the technology orbit the body. Moreover, the device could enhance the GPS technology we have on Earth.
The test device will be held in space for a year for NASA to decide whether or not it can be kept steady in orbit. If the test is successful, the technology could be used for future missions starting with the 2030s. NASA will host a live stream as the Deep Space Atomic Clock will leave our planet onboard of Falcon Heavy on June the 24th. The launch is scheduled to take place at 11.30 PM.