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Isro, NPL sign MoU for time synchronisation of desi GPS

04 August 2017

Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC), India's indigenously developed global positioning system (GPS) took another step towards its launch with the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with CSIR National Physical Laboratory (NPL) to synchronise it with Indian Standard Time (IST).

NavIC will now get formally synchronised with the Indian Standard Time (IST) maintained by Delhi-based NPL. a move that will help Isro delink from the US clock system and advance operationalisation of the desi global positioning system.

The time syncronization is crucial for a number of purposes including financial transactions, stock handling, digital archiving, time stamping, national security and prevention of cyber crimes.

While India can source the IST from the US-based National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the time accuracy may vary and hence, NPL is best suited for the task. The laboratory maintains accuracy of 20 nanoseconds, ensuring utmost accuracy which is essential for satellite navigation system.

"We can't depend forever on the US-based National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). After signing the MoU, the space clocks will be syncronised to that of the Primary National Atomic Clocks at National Physical Laboratory and therefore will have independence," TOI quoted NPL director Dinesh Aswal as saying.

"Though millisecond or microsecond accuracy is sufficient for day-to-day activities, the ISRO needs accuracy up to nanoseconds level for navigation, surveillance and other national missions," he added.

For day-to-day activities, the millisecond or microsecond accuracy is sufficient, however, Aswal said, Isro will need to bring the accuracy up to nanoseconds level for navigation, surveillance and other national missions.

NavIC, which stands for 'sailor' or 'navigator' in Hindi, is backed by a constellation of seven satellites which will provide Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT) services in India and the adjoining region up to 1,500 km. The desi GPS will provide two types of services Standard Positioning Service (SPS) and Restricted Service (RS).

Although the MoU will mark the first step towards the commercialization of the service, minister of state for space and atomic energy Jitendra Singh said the NavIC may take couple of years to become fully operational. Until then, we will have to rely on the American GPS that dominates navigation system market across the world.

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