Atomic Clocks on Indigenous Navigation Satellite IRNSS-1A Develops Snag

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Atomic clocks on first satellite IRNSS-1A of NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation) , has developed a technical snag. It is indigenously built satellite-based positioning system.

Representational Image


  • One of three crucial rubidium timekeepers (atomic clock) on IRNSS-1A satellites failed six months ago and other two followed subsequently.
  • Remaining satellites of NavIC constellation (having total 7 satellites) are performing their core function of providing accurate position, navigation and time.
  • Each satellite has three clocks and a total of 27 clocks for navigation satellite system.
  • These clocks are supplied same foreign vendor.
  • These clocks are important to provide precise data.

Atomic clock

Caesium Atomic Clock from 1975 with Battery Backup
  • It is an extremely accurate type of clock regulated by vibrations of an atomic or molecular system.
  • Atomic clocks are the most accurate time and frequency standards known.
  • It is used as primary standards for international time distribution services.
  • It is to control wave frequency of television broadcasts, and in global navigation satellite systems such as GPS.
Atomic Clocks

About IRNSS-1A

  • It is the first navigational satellite in the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System series of satellites been placed in geosynchronous orbit.
  • Launch date: 1 July 2013
  • Launch site: Satish Dhawan Space Centre
  • Mission duration: 10 years
  • Contractor: ISRO
  • Failure:
    • Three Rubidium atomic clocks on board IRNSS-1A failed.
    • First failure occurred in July 2016 following which two other clocks too failed subsequently.
    • This made the satellite redundant thus making a need for replacement.
    • ISRO Plans to replace IRNSS 1H in second half of 2017.

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