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Center Independent Research & Development: GSFC IRAD

Optical Clock Technology for Coherent Optimetrics and Time Frequency Transfer

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

We propose to perform a study and experimental demonstration of Optical Clock Technology for enhanced Coherent Optimetrics, and ultra-high precision time and frequency transfer. In coherent optimetrics configuration, the system will be locked to an Optical Clock to demonstrate nm range and ranging rate performance. In time and frequency transfer mode, an optical frequency comb will be lock the Optical Clock to demonstrate an unprecedented precision time and frequency transfer to remote satellite (such as TDRS). It makes precision time and clock available on any satellite without having to carry bulky optical clock source on board. This dual technology, coherent optimetrics and precision optical clock time frequency transfer will greatly advance the state of art on ranging, clock and timing in space. Greatly benefit both Gravitational [3] and Planetary [4] sciences. This technology development is leveraging the vast technology progress in the fields: a. High speed coherent optical communication (Telecomm) (>100GBPS) with photonic integrated circuit (PIC) and high speed analog and digital electronics .  b. Low noise laser source  and optical clock development from both gravity wave measurement (LISA) and optical clock research. c. optical frequency comb development for high precision metrology, spectroscopy, etc . This proposal also leverages last couple of years’ project “High Precision RF Ranging and Range Rate Measurements over Optical Carrier and Laser Communication in Cubesat Platform”, and “Coherent Optimetric Measurements and Optical Communication”. The success of this study will provide platform with both ranging over continuous optical phase (~nm error) and high precision optical frequency transfer (relative frequency error of 10-17). It will be game changing technology with such high precision ranging and high bandwidth communication. It will service both science and NAV/COMM at a new level of ranging precision and comm capacity. It will also advance the state-of-the-art for the optical comm system with high bandwidth and high precision ranging. It will be an enabler for precision formation flying missions that include: virtual sensors, sensor webs, large-number-multi-spacecraft distributed mission, autonomous rendezvous & docking; and enabler for gravitational based small-sat scientific missions.

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