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NASA is to launch a deep-space atomic clock tonight

NASA’s Deep Space Atomic Clock, shown here in a beautiful picture, the testing of new technologies for deep-space navigation.
(NASA)

NASA is set to launch a new atomic clock into orbit on a Falcon Heavy, today (June 24) was a technology demonstration mission that could change the way people explore the space.

The Deep Space atomic clock, developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a space, and be ready to upgrade to the atomic clocks we use here on Earth, and the clocks are already flying on the satellite for the GPS device.

Ideally, this new atomic clock will make space navigation to distant objects in the room are on the journey to Mars, for instance, are more autonomous, NASA said in a statement. The precision of the measurement of the space and the position of the scholars are hoping to get in to the Deep Space Atomic Clock, can be a spaceship traveling in deep space to act on their own, without a lot of communication with the Earth. It would be a huge improvement in how the truck currently is being navigated on a previous occasion, NASA has said.

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But how does it work?

Astronomers have been using clocks in order to navigate in the area. They are sending a signal to the spacecraft, which sends him back down to Earth. The time of the cruise will tell the scientists at the spacecraft’s distance from the Earth. This is because the signal travels at the speed of light, and so, armed with the amount of time it took to get to space and back in terms of distance, it is just a simple calculation away. The sending of multiple signals over time, scientists can calculate a spacecraft’s trajectory as well as in what it had been and where it’s going.

But to find a space in a small margin of error, that astronomers have very accurate clocks that can measure billionths of a second, according to NASA. They also have clocks that are extremely stable. “Stability” here refers to how consistent a clock is measures in a unit of time. While you might think that the clocks will measure the same length of time as a “new” clocks that have a tendency to drift, and slowly the mark for longer and longer, like for a second.” For the measurement of the location of the spacecraft in deep space, astronomers have set their atomic clocks in order to be consistent to better than a billionth of a second, days or weeks.

Modern clocks, from which we can wear on our wrists, on which the satellites are , in the majority of cases, to stay up to date with a quartz-crystal oscillator. This is to take advantage of the fact that quartz crystals vibrate with a precise frequency when the control voltage is applied to them, NASA said in a statement. The vibrations occur as the pendulum in a grandfather clock.

But, by the standards of the space of navigation, the quartz-crystal clocks are not very stable at all. After six weeks, they can be off by a full millisecond, which translates into the speed of light, up to 185 miles (300 km). That there is a lot of wrong, it would have a major impact on the measurement of the position of a fast-moving spacecraft, NASA said.

Atomic clocks, combining the quartz crystal oscillator with certain types of atoms to the creation of a more stable. NASA’s Deep Space atomic clock, using mercury atoms, and may be off by less than a nanosecond after about four days, and in less than one microsecond after a 10-year period. It would be a 10 million a year for the clock to be wrong by one second, according to NASA.

Related: A NASA atomic clock on SpaceX’s Next Falcon Heavy Will be the Pioneer Deep-Space-Travel-Tech

It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, to learn that it is an atomic clock, which uses the structure of the atoms, which are composed of a nucleus of protons and neutrons, surrounded by electrons. The atoms of each element that has a simple structure, each with a different number of protons in the nucleus. As the number of electrons each atom has can vary, the electrons occupy different energy levels, and with a jolt of just the right amount of energy can cause an electron to a higher energy level around the nucleus.

The energy that is required to make an electron do to jump is unique to each and every element is consistent in all of the atoms of the element. “The fact that the energy difference between the orbits is an accurate and stable value is really the key ingredient for atomic clocks,” by Eric Burt, who is an atomic clock physicist at JPL, said in a statement. “This is why atomic clocks are able to achieve a performance level of mechanical clocks.”

In essence, atomic clocks are able to correct themselves. In an atomic clock, the frequency of the quartz oscillator is converted into the frequency that is applied to a set of atoms of a given element. If the frequency is correct, it will cause a lot of electrons to jump energy levels. However, if it is not, the less electrons are able to jump. This says that the clock of the quartz oscillator is off-frequency, and how to correct them. The Deep Space atomic clock, is this a correction is calculated and applied to the quartz oscillator in order to couple of seconds.

But that’s not all that makes up the Deep Space atomic clock special. This is an alarm clock that makes use of a mercury atom, it also allows for the use of a charged mercury ions.

Because ions are atoms that have an electrical charge, they can be included in an electromagnetic “trap.” In order to keep the atoms from interacting with the walls of the vacuum chamber, a common problem with the neutral atoms can be used in standard atomic clocks. If they can take it up with the vacuum walls, and changes in the environment, such as temperature, can cause changes in the atoms themselves, and which lead to a frequency error.

The Deep Space Atomic Clock, and will not be subject to any such changes in the environment, according to the us, and it will be 50 times more stable than the clocks used on the GPS satellites in the sky. After the bell today announced the launch of its scientists will be in a position to begin to test the clock’s accuracy, as it is throughout the day, and then months in the job.

The Deep Space atomic clock will be the launch from nasa’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, one of the two dozen or so of cargo. The 4-hour launch window opens at 11:30 pm EDT (0330 June 25, GMT); a visit Space.com the future’s full coverage of the launch.

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Original article on LiveScience.

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