Abstract

Space-borne optical frequency references based on spectroscopy of atomic vapors may serve as an integral part of compact optical atomic clocks, which can advance global navigation systems or can be utilized for earth observation missions as part of laser systems for cold atom gradiometers. Nanosatellites offer low launch costs, multiple deployment opportunities, and short payload development cycles, enabling rapid maturation of optical frequency references and underlying key technologies in space. Toward an in-orbit demonstration on such a platform, we have developed a CubeSat-compatible prototype of an optical frequency reference based on the D2 transition in rubidium. A frequency instability of $1.7 \times {10^{- 12}}$ at 1 s averaging time is achieved. The optical module occupies a volume of $35\;{\rm{cm}}^3$, weighs 73 g, and consumes 780 mW of power.

© 2021 Optical Society of America

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