Microgravity: living on the International Space Station
Microgravity: living on the International Space Station

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Microgravity: living on the International Space Station

8 Gravity, timing and metrology

In the previous section you encountered timing research on the ISS. This research also includes ‘metrology’ which is the application of physical units. To summarise this research in context, Figure 7 shows the components of technology driving the modules of research into the development of systems.

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Figure 7 Metrology research by the University of Birmingham.

The precision of timing instruments is very important, but what type of clocks do we use? In Figure 7 you can see that some components, for example LASERs, can drive prototypes of clocks for navigation, defining time and for network timing. How important are these systems? Obviously, navigation systems are very important for applications in global positioning systems (GPS) and banking transactions also rely heavily on precise timing, so how are these systems made more accurate?

Read the following article: http://newsfeed.time.com/ 2013/ 07/ 11/ new-optical-atomic-clock-poised-to-redefine-timekeeping/ [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , which introduces a new optical clock to improve timing precisions. Then complete Activity 10.

Activity 10 A new optical atomic clock

Allow approximately 15 minutes

Choose the correct option to complete the following statements.

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You will now look at communication and security using the ISS as a platform.

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