Project objectives

Global navigation satellite systems (GNSSs) such as the US-American GPS, the Russian GLONASS, the European Galileo and the Chinese BeiDou are backbones of modern industrial societies. GNSS positioning and navigation play significant roles in many aspects of transportation. GNSS clock synchronization is a crucial component in global time transfer of Universal Time Coordinated (UTC) in various automated control and monitoring applications such as power grid infrastructures, telecommunication systems, and even financial markets. In the geosciences, GNSS technologies render continental drift velocities of a few mm to cm per year accessible for direct monitoring, they contribute to past and present gravity space missions (CHAMP, GRACE, GRACE-FO) and provide valuable input data for numerical weather prediction and climate change studies. Today the most precise geodetic reference frames are based on GNSS and other space geodetic techniques. The high relevance of geodesy for modern societies is reflected by the establishment of the “Sub-Committee on Geodesy” at the United Nations that in 2016 was tasked with the development of an implementation plan for the Global Geodetic Reference Frame (GGRF).

The development of the US-American GPS system in the 1970s was based on technologies available at that time. Estimates of receiver position and receiver clock errors relied on advances in space-borne atomic clock technology, spread spectrum signals, integrated electronic circuits and digital signal processing. Technological breakthroughs in recent years such as the introduction of optical clocks, the development of atom interferometers, optical ranging and optical communication equipment create originative possibilities for navigation, geodesy and time metrology. The ADVANTAGE project proposes a leading-edge architecture for a future European GNSS infrastructure (Kepler) capable of fully exploiting the benefits of these innovative optical time and ranging technologies.

The ADVANTAGE project investigates the potential of space-based optical atomic clocks, optical inter-satellite links, and atom interferometry for satellite navigation, geodesy, and time metrology. The project objectives include a high-level system design, the development and testing of key components, a time transfer experiment, and the development of the algorithms and processing systems.
The project activities support and accelerate the development of optical timing and ranging technologies and develop feasible solutions for Kepler, a potential future iteration of the European satellite navigation system. The research strategy focuses on system design, on developments of component technologies and on parameter estimation algorithms relevant for satellite navigation, geodesy, and time metrology.