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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

An ultra-stable optical frequency reference for space
Author(s): T. Schuldt; K. Döringshoff; E. Kovalchuk; J. Pahl; M. Gohlke; D. Weise; U. Johann; A. Peters; C. Braxmaier

Paper Abstract

We realized ultra-stable optical frequency references on elegant breadboard (EBB) and engineering model (EM) level utilizing Doppler-free spectroscopy of molecular iodine near 532nm. A frequency stability of about 1•10-14 at an integration time of 1 s and below 5•10-15 at integration times between 10 s and 100 s was achieved. These values are comparable to the currently best laboratory setups.

Both setups use a baseplate made of glass material where the optical components are joint using a specific assembly-integration technology. Compared to the EBB setup, the EM setup is further developed with respect to compactness and mechanical and thermal stability. The EM setup uses a baseplate made of fused silica with dimensions of 380 x 180 x 40 mm3 and a specifically designed 100 x 100 x 30 mm3 rectangular iodine cell in nine-pass configuration with a specific robust cold finger design. The EM setup was subjected to thermal cycling and vibrational testing.

Applications of such an optical frequency reference in space can be found in fundamental physics, geoscience, Earth observation, and navigation & ranging. One example is the proposed mSTAR (mini SpaceTime Asymmetry Research) mission, dedicated to perform a Kennedy-Thorndike experiment on a satellite in a sunsynchronous low-Earth orbit. By comparing an iodine standard to a cavity-based frequency reference and integration over 2 year mission lifetime, the Kennedy-Thorndike coefficient will be determined with up to two orders of magnitude higher accuracy than the current best ground experiment. In a current study, the compatibility of the payload with the SaudiSat-4 host vehicle is investigated.

Paper Details

Date Published: 17 November 2017
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 10563, International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2014, 105632S (17 November 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2304103
Show Author Affiliations
T. Schuldt, German Aerospace Ctr. (Germany)
K. Döringshoff, Humboldt-Univ. Berlin (Germany)
E. Kovalchuk, Humboldt-Univ. zu Berlin (Germany)
J. Pahl, Humboldt-Univ. Berlin (Germany)
M. Gohlke, Univ. Bremen (Germany)
D. Weise, Airbus Defence and Space (Germany)
U. Johann, Airbus Defence and Space (Germany)
A. Peters, Humboldt-Univ. zu Berlin (Germany)
C. Braxmaier, German Aerospace Ctr. (Germany)
Ctr. of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (Germany)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10563:
International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2014
Zoran Sodnik; Bruno Cugny; Nikos Karafolas, Editor(s)

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