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.
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:, which introduces a new optical clock to improve timing precisions. Then complete Activity 10.
Activity 10 A new optical atomic clock
Choose the correct option to complete the following statements.
You will now look at communication and security using the ISS as a platform.