Author Topic: Astrium to develop Atomic Clock Ensemble in Space (ACES) for ESA  (Read 2908 times)

Offline Space Pete

Astrium will develop the Atomic Clock Ensemble in Space (ACES) for the European Space Agency

• The ACES payload accommodates a new generation of atomic clocks
  on the ISS for fundamental physics experiments

• Contract value for the full development of the ACES is €35 M

Friedrichshafen, July 19th, 2010: Alain Charmeau, CEO of Astrium Space Transportation, Michael Menking, Director of Orbital Systems at Astrium Space Transportation and Simonetta di Pippo, ESA Director for Human Space Flight, have signed a €35M contract for the full development of the Atomic Clock Ensemble in Space (ACES) for the ISS. This contract follows on from several years of pre-development under the prime contractorship of Astrium.

The contract comprises the development of the ACES Flight Model, up to its integration for launch on the Japanese HTV transport vehicle. Additionally it includes the set-up of the ACES specific ground segment, establishing a network of ground reference clocks, communicating with the ISS based ACES payload and its two atomic clocks via Microwave-Link ground terminals.

The ACES payload will test a new generation of atomic clocks in space. The Caesium cold atom clock PHARAO, developed and provided by CNES, and the Space Hydrogen Maser (SHM), funded through the Swiss contribution to ELIPS (European Life and Physical Sciences) program, are the heart of the ACES payload. They will be characterised and compared to each other, as well as to ground based national time standards in different countries.

The fact that time and frequency can be measured very precisely, far better than any other physical parameter, is basic for physical measurements on relativistic effects. The ACES mission will improve the accuracy of time measurement and therefore enable the analysis of the predictions of the theory of relativity with a higher resolution of up to two orders of magnitude compared to current experiments. This can be achieved by the manipulation of cold atoms under microgravity conditions, allowing longer interaction between the atoms and the laser radiation, because the perturbation from the Earth’s gravitational force is removed.

In the research community the ACES is considered to be one of the most exciting microgravity physics experiments on the ISS ever conceived, and therefore the ACES project is accredited with the highest scientific merits. The ultimate performance of space based atomic clocks in a microgravity environment will be explored and a number of fundamental physics experiments will be performed. A number of ground based atomic clocks, at research institutes world-wide will also participate in the ACES mission.

Delivery of the ACES Payload for launch to the ISS is planned for autumn 2013 with an on-orbit accommodation on the Columbus External Payload Facility (CEPF). The duration of the mission will be at least two years.
« Last Edit: 07/28/2010 02:59 PM by Space Pete »
NASASpaceflight ISS Editor

Offline Space Pete

Includes some nice images & video:

ESA: "Challenging Einstein on the ISS: ACES takes a step ahead".
www.esa.int/esaHS/SEM7L2WNPBG_index_0.html
NASASpaceflight ISS Editor

Offline Space Pete

New Scientist: "Time to go atomic on space station".
www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727710.301-time-to-go-atomic-on-space-station.html

Here's some good ESA pages about ACES.
www.spaceflight.esa.int/projects/index.cfm?act=default.page&level=12&page=829
www.esa.int/SPECIALS/HSF_Research/SEMJSK0YDUF_0.html

It occurred to me the other day that ACES is probably the reason why NASA want to get the LWAPA (Light Weight Adaptor Plate Assembly) returned to Earth the LWAPA is currently blocking ACES' attachment point on the COL (Columbus Orbiting Laboratory) EPF (External Payload Facility).
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Offline arkaska

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It occurred to me the other day that ACES is probably the reason why NASA want to get the LWAPA (Light Weight Adaptor Plate Assembly) returned to Earth the LWAPA is currently blocking ACES' attachment point on the COL (Columbus Orbiting Laboratory) EPF (External Payload Facility).

It will not only block ACES but future external payloads that will go in that attachment point. I assume they don'y want to lock it up indefinitely and it is hard to return the LWAPA in any other way then on shuttle.