This paper, “Un projet d'horloge atomique spatiale utlilsant le refroidissement des atomes par faisceaux laser: PHARAO," was presented as part of International Conference on Space Optics—ICSO 1997, held in Toulouse, France.
Lasers with sub-hertz line-width and fractional frequency instability around 1×10-15 for 0.1 s to 10 s averaging time are currently realized by locking onto an ultra-stable Fabry-Perot cavity using the Pound-Drever-Hall method. This powerful method requires tight alignment of free space optical components, precise polarization adjustment and spatial mode matching. To circumvent these issues, we use an all-fiber Michelson interferometer with a long fiber spool as a frequency reference and a heterodyne detection technique with a fibered acousto optical modulator (AOM)1. At low Fourier frequencies, the frequency noise of our system is mainly limited by mechanical vibrations, an issue that has already been explored in the field of optoelectronic oscillators.2,3,4
The PHARAO project purpose is to open the way for a new atomic clock generation in space, where laser cooling techniques and microgravity allow high frequency stability and accuracy.
The French space agency, CNES is funding and managing the clock construction. The French SYRTE and LKB laboratories are scientific and technical advisers for the clock requirements and the follow-up of subsystem development in industrial companies.
EADS SODERN is developing two main subsystems of the PHARAO clock: the Laser Source and the Cesium Tube where atoms are cooled, launched, selected and detected by laser beams. The Laser Source includes an optical bench and electronic devices to generate the laser beams required.
This paper describes PHARAO and the role laser beams play in its principle of operation. Then we present the Laser Source design, the technologies involved, and the status of development. Lastly, we focus of a key equipment to reach the performances expected, which is the Extended Cavity Laser Diode.
The purpose of the PHARAO project is to develop a new atomic clock generation in space. This clock takes advantage of the very low atomic velocities obtained by laser cooling techniques and the microgravity environment.
Designing the PHARAO optical bench, which provides all the laser tools for the atomic manipulations, is a difficult task. In this paper we will give a global overview of the optical bench in term of functions, interfaces and performances. After establishing the optical parameters, which have an impact on the atomic clock performance, we present the model and software, which are used for the design and analysis of the optical system, taking into account the Gaussian laser beams. Some critical functions have been experimented and characterized to prove the model’s accuracy.
The Space Optical Clocks project aims at operating lattice clocks on the ISS for tests of fundamental physics and for providing high-accuracy comparisons of future terrestrial optical clocks. A pre-phase-A study (2007- 10), funded partially by ESA and DLR, included the implementation of several optical lattice clock systems using Strontium and Ytterbium as atomic species and their characterization. Subcomponents of clock demonstrators with the added specification of transportability and using techniques suitable for later space use, such as all-solid-state lasers, low power consumption, and compact dimensions, have been developed and have been validated. This included demonstration of laser-cooling and magneto-optical trapping of Sr atoms in a compact breadboard apparatus and demonstration of a transportable clock laser with 1 Hz linewidth. With two laboratory Sr lattice clock systems a number of fundamental results were obtained, such as observing atomic resonances with linewidths as low as 3 Hz, non-destructive detection of atom excitation, determination of decoherence effects and reaching a frequency instability of 1×10-16.
We describe the realization of a 5 km free space coherent optical link through the turbulent atmosphere between a telescope and a ground target. We present the phase noise of the link, limited mainly by atmospheric turbulence and mechanical vibrations of the telescope and the target. We discuss the implications of our results for applications, with particular emphasis on optical Doppler ranging to satellites and long distance frequency transfer.
We report the main characteristics and performances of the first – to our knowledge – prototype of an ultra-stable cavity designed and produced by industry with the aim of space missions. The cavity is a 100 mm long cylinder rigidly held at its midplane by an engineered mechanical interface providing an efficient decoupling from thermal and vibration perturbations. The spacer is made from Ultra-Low Expansion (ULE) glass and mirrors substrate from fused silica to reduce the thermal noise limit to 4x10-16. Finite element modeling was performed in order to minimize thermal and vibration sensitivities while getting a high fundamental resonance frequency. The system was designed to be transportable, acceleration tolerant (up to several g) and temperature range compliant [-33°C; +73°C]. The axial vibration sensitivity was evaluated at 4x10-11 /(ms-2), while the transverse one is < 1x10-11 /(ms-2). The fractional frequency instability is < 1x10-15 from 0.1 to few seconds and reaches 5-6x10-16 at 1s.
The ACES (as Atomic Clock Ensemble in Space) mission, managed by the European Space Agency, has three
main objectives. The first one deals with the operation and study of the laser cooled cesium clock PHARAO
(as Projet d'Horloge Atomique à Refroidissement d'Atomes en Orbite) to reach a frequency accuracy of 10-16
in space. The second one is to perform fundamental metrology by comparing the clock signal with ground based
clocks via a two way time transfer link. The third one is to perform fundamental physics tests such as a new
measurement of the red shift at 2 parts per million and a search for variations of fundamental physical constants.
The expected time transfer resolution is 0.3 ps at 300 seconds and 7 ps per day. An H-maser developed by the
Observatoire Cantonal de Neuchatel is the second ACES clock and will be used as a stable frequency reference
for mid term duration. We give an overview of the ACES mission and its operation and present the first results
obtained with the engineering model of the laser cooled cesium clock PHARAO. This model is first developed to
validate the flight model design.
We report on the evaluation of an optical lattice clock using fermionic 87Sr. The measured frequency of the
1S0 → 3P0 clock transition is 429 228 004 229 873.7Hz with a fractional acuracy of 2.6 × 10-15. This evaluation
is performed on mF = ±9/2 spin-polarized atoms. This technique also enables to evaluate the value of the
differential Landé factor, 110.6Hz/G. by probing symmetrical σ-transitions.