Timation and NTS 2


The Naval Research Laboratory in the 1970s investigated whether atomic clocks would work in space. Like John Harrison in the 18th century, atomic clockmakers had to find ways to miniaturize clocks without sacrificing stability in a new environment. These clocks are based on the elements rubidium and cesium. Rubidium clocks are smaller and less costly but slightly less accurate than cesium clocks.
In the 1990s, this instrument was the most accurate clock in the country and helped keep the GPS clocks synchronized. Built and operated at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colorado, it served as the primary frequency standard for the United States—that is, it determined the length of a second of time.
The TIMATION 1 satellite, NRL’s first experiment in using time signals for navigation.