Rubiclock successfully tested in zero gravity

Dr L De Sarlo and Dr D Holleville experience weightlessness together with the two instrument bays of the Rubiclock prototype on board of the airbus A300-0g during a flight campaign funded by CNES.

Prototype developed by EMRP project could offer high-accuracy atomic clocks to industry.

A prototype of Rubiclock, developed within EMRP project Mclocks (IND55), has been successfully tested in a parabolic flight campaign on an Airbus A300 to assess its performance in microgravity conditions. Rubiclock is a vapour-cell clock based on cold rubidium atoms, which is compact, reliable and energy efficient, while offering a long-term accuracy within an order of magnitude, equivalent to the long-term accuracy of that of bulky, expensive primary standards.

The advantages of vapour-cell atomic clocks make them ideally suited to commercial use, in areas such as navigation and communications, but so far the technology has only been developed for laboratory environments. The results of the test showed that it was possible to keep the Rubiclock prototype stable throughout the flight, including during the 30 phases in which the acceleration was 0g, confirming its suitability for space applications.

Rubiclock is one of the three types of vapour-cell microwave clock that IND55 'Compact and high-performing microwave clocks for industrial applications'  aims to develop, based on different underpinning technologies, which meet the performance and compactness requirements of industry.

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