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Ground-based demonstration of the European Laser Timing (ELT) experiment

By: Nasca, R.; Cacciapuoti, L.; Schafer, W.; Hugentobler, U.; Lauber, P.; Prochazka, I.; Schreiber, K.U.;

2010 / IEEE


This item was taken from the IEEE Periodical ' Ground-based demonstration of the European Laser Timing (ELT) experiment ' The development of techniques for the comparison of distant clocks and for the distribution of stable and accurate time scales has important applications in metrology and fundamental physics research. Additionally, the rapid progress of frequency standards in the optical domain is presently demanding additional efforts for improving the performances of existing time and frequency transfer links. Present clock comparison systems in the microwave domain are based on GPS and two-way satellite time and frequency transfer (TWSTFT). European Laser Timing (ELT) is an optical link presently under study in the frame of the ESA mission Atomic Clock Ensemble in Space (ACES). The on-board hardware for ELT consists of a corner cube retro-reflector (CCR), a single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD), and an event timer board connected to the ACES time scale. Light pulses fired toward ACES by a laser ranging station will be detected by the SPAD diode and time tagged in the ACES time scale. At the same time, the CCR will re-direct the laser pulse toward the ground station providing precise ranging information. We have carried out a ground-based feasibility study at the Geodetic Observatory Wettzell. By using ordinary satellites with laser reflectors and providing a second independent detection port and laser pulse timing unit with an independent time scale, it is possible to evaluate many aspects of the proposed time transfer link before the ACES launch.