In a significant development, Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has developed an atomic clock that will be used in navigation satellites to measure precise location data. The space agency currently imports atomic clocks from European aerospace manufacturer Astrium for its navigation satellites.
All seven navigation satellites launched earlier as part of Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) or NaVIC have three imported Rubdium atomic clocks each. NAVIC was approved by the government nearly 12 years ago at a cost of Rs 1,420 crore to establish an indigenous satellite based navigation system to provide position, navigation and timing services over the Indian landmass and surrounding region extending up to 1,500 km. Though the indigenous navigation system is very much operational, it is not as popular as the American GPS in the country because the receiver and mobile chip set needed to access the desi system have not been commercialized.
SAC has developed an indigenous atomic clock and this clock is currently undergoing a series of qualification tests. Once it successfully clears all tests, the desi atomic clock will be used in an experimental navigation satellite to test its accuracy and durability in space.
With the development of the desi atomic clock, Isro has become one of the few space organisations in the world which have gained the capability to develop this highly sophisticated technology. We don’t know the design and technology of the imported atomic clock. But the desi clock has been developed based on our designs and specifications. This clock is as good as the imported one. We are hopeful that it will easily work for more than five years.