Orolia Group, through its subsidiary SpectraTime, has been awarded by a 14.5 million euro contract to supply Rubidium atomic clocks (Rubidium Atomic Frequency Standard, RAFS) and passive hydrogen masers to equip eight FOC Galileo satellites.
Each Galileo satellite carries two Rubidium atomic clocks and a passive hydrogen maser, the most stable clock in the world. Once completed this new contract, in partnership with Astrium and Selex Galileo, will make Spectratime the leading supplier in the world for active atomic clocks in space, including 72 for the Galileo system.
The principle of the satellite navigation is based on the transmission of a signal to the user from at least four satellites. To achieve a positioning accuracy of about one meter, these signals must be time synchronized to a billionth of a second. Atomic clocks onboard each satellite provides the ultra-precise
time reference that plays the main role in the efficiency and reliability of the system.
Atomic clocks are used in satellite navigation because of their stability, low weight and high reliability. Beyond these performances, the atomic clocks need to be protected, as critical onboard equipment, from any source of interference with the space environment, such as radiation, magnetic fields, shock, vibration or thermal variations.