SITIS Archives - Topic Details
Program:  STTR
Topic Num:  AF07-T024 (AirForce)
Title:  Autonomous Precision Inertial Navigation System Using Cold Atom Chip Sensor
Research & Technical Areas:  Space Platforms

  Objective:  Research sources of decoherence, environmental noise and errors, leading to the design and construction a microchip interferometer and platform.
  Description:  Harnessing the unique properties of ultracold gases is revolutionizing inertial force sensing. This technology could make for very small, extremely precise sensors that consume very little power for many space-based applications including precise targeting, tracking, and pointing, all requirements for space-based C3ISR and space superiority (survivability, offensive and defensive counterspace, communications). Such a sensor could be made into a small, GPS-free, non-emanating, jam-proof inertial navigation system. This effort will focus on understanding the environmental sources of decoherence that disturb rotation measurements and provide appropriate solutions to minimize their impact, while integrating a controlled rotation to these devices. A thorough investigation into the sources of phase decoherence will be required to successfully mitigate their damaging effects on rotation measurements. Another research challenge will involve determining and understanding scale factor errors. Scale factor errors are the errors between the measured rate and the actual input rate increases as the input rate grows. Determining the physical analog to a "closed loop solution" would convert a rate gyro into a rate integrating gyro, perhaps mitigating this error source. Overcoming this research challenge is critical for achieving scale factors suitable for inertial navigation. To work these research issues a rotation platform is needed. In addition the platform itself has several scientific and engineering issues that must be addressed including analyzing vibration dampening during rotation, which is a major source of environmental noise with a sensitive rotation sensor.

  PHASE I: Research and understand sources of decoherence, environmental noise and errors. Design a suitable platform sufficient for mitigating these unwanted factors.
  PHASE II: Develop a prototype of the Phase I design of the sensor platform. DUAL USE COMMERCIALIZATION POTENTIAL: Military application: GPS-free, jam-proof navigation; remote sensing of other space objects via gravitational or magnetic sensing; tracking; targeting; and pointing with inertial sensors for feedback. Commercial application: Commercial applications include satellite pointing for communications.

  References:  1. T.L. Gustavson, P. Bouyer, and M.A. Kasevich, Precision Rotation Measurements with an Atom Interferometer Gyroscope. Phys. Rev. Lett., 78 2046, (1997). 2. B. Culshaw, The optical fibre Sagnac interferometer: an overview of its principles and applications. Meas. Sci. Technol., 17 R1, (2005). 3. M. B. Crookston, P. M. Baker, and M. P. Robinson, A microchip ring trap for cold atoms. J. Phys. B, 38 3289, (2005). 4. Ying-Ju Wang, Dana Z. Anderson, Victor M. Bright, Eric A. Cornell, Quentin Diot, Tetsuo Kishimoto, Mara Prentiss, R. A. Saravanan, Stephen R. Segal, and Saijun Wu, Atom Michelson Interferometer on a Chip Using a Bose-Einstein Condensate. Phys. Rev. Lett., 94 090405, (2005).

Keywords:  Rotation sensor, Fiber optic gyroscope, Bose-Einstein condensation, atom interferometry.

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