NASA Master Clock

NASA is currently developing a new system for distributing timing reference information over long distances.  The new system will replace an older system called the Deep Space Network (DSN) frequency and timing subsystem (FTS).  The new system will be more modular, expandable, and easier to maintain.  The heart of the system is a master clock assembly (MCA) that creates time signals synchronized to a 100 MHz reference signal from an atomic frequency standard.  The MCA creates a timing signal called a system time code (STC) that is sent via fiber optic cable to a distribution assembly (DA).  The distribution assembly reconstitutes the signal and sends it either to another DA for additional fan out or to a time-code translator (TCT) also via fiber optic cable.  The TCT compensates for the delay in the signal from the MCA and creates time codes or pulse rates as required; the TCT is the interface to the end user of the timing signal and can be distributed as an electrical signal or optical signal as necessary at this point [1].  More information can be found in the Technical Support Package at under the Electronics/Computers category.  I had trouble navigating to this information on the Tech Briefs web site, but was able to find it with a Google search of the article described in [1].

[1] NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. May 2007. “Master Clock and Time-Signal-Distribution System.” NASA Tech Briefs.


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