Journey of Chinese Aerospace Technology and Culture 2018: the 2nd Stop -- National Time Service Center (NTSC)

2018-03-25  Share

During March. 22nd to March. 25th, the Centre organized a technical trip to Xi'an for 2017 MASTA and DOCSTA students, including a technical visit to National Time Service Center (NTSC), Chinese Academy of Science (CAS). All participants enjoyed this four-day trip, and expressed their excitement and thankfulness through articles. Here is one journal report from one Pakistan participant, MUHAMMAD ARSALAN.

Like every year, this year, the Centre also arranged a four-day trip to Xi’an. Xi'an is a city often be called as the birthplace of Chinese civilization. It is a capital of Shaanxi Province, eastern end to the Silk Road and the home to Terra-Cotta Warriors, one of the “Eight Wonders” in the world.

Soon after we arrived at Xi’an (Day 1), we went to see the Bell Tower which is a symbol of the city and one of the grandest of its kind in China. We then visited the Muslim Street where we enjoyed delicious Chinese cuisines and unique souvenirs/local products. Perhaps, the most popular items to buy in Xi'an are the reproductions of Terra-Cotta Warriors Figurines.

The next day (Day 2), we visited the National Time Service Center (NTSC), Chinese Academy of Science (CAS), a national-level base-type research institute doing the tasks of national standard time generating, keeping and transmitting. NTSC, previously called Shaanxi Astronomical Observatory, is a scientific research institution engaged in the fundamental research and technology R & D in the fields of time-frequency and satellite navigation. NTSC undertakes the task to generate, maintain and transmit the national standard of time-frequency, and operates a national major scientific infrastructure – the long and short wave time service system.

During the visit to NTSC, we learnt several important things and gained knowledge about how the National Standard Time kept by NTSC, which had high stability and accuracy. It can test and evaluate the atomic clock in different location through the technology of remote time comparison. In the BPL system, time-frequency standard is generated by the cesium atomic clock whose performance has a direct impact on the time service precision. We also learnt how to generate and maintain Time and Frequency standards, synchronization between Universal Coordinate Time (UTC) and BeiDou Time (BDT). Later on, we went to see the Time Science Museum which was unique of its kind. We witnessed many important historical facts and achievements regarding Time in that museum.

Overall, the visit to the National Time Service Center (NTSC), Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) was very informative for us because most of the things we studied in the MASTA Course “GNSS Reference System” were recalled and we were lucky enough to gain practical knowledge through this visit.

The following day (Day 3), we visited the famous Terra-Cotta Warriors, an international symbol of China’s history, and reproduces the mega imperial guard troops of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Being the most significant archeological excavations of the 20th century and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Terra-Cotta Warriors is no doubt a must-see site for every visitor to Xian and so we did.

On the same day, we also visited the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and the Square, a Buddhist pagoda located in southern of Xi'an City. One of the pagoda's functions was to hold sutras and figurines of the Buddha that were brought to China from India by the Buddhist translator and traveler Xuan Zang. The pagoda currently stands at a height of 64m (210 ft) tall and from the top it offers views over the city of Xi'an.

In the night, we went to the Xi’an City Wall which is an impressive and well preserved construction. We discovered the history behind the Ming Dynasty and Tang Dynasty while walking on the City Wall. The walls once were built to protect the city. Now it offers excellent views of the whole city.

On the last day (Day 4), we visited the Small Wild Goose Pagoda and the square, another significant pagoda in Xi’an. The pagoda stood 45 m until the earthquake occurred in 1556. The earthquake shook the pagoda and damaged it so that it now stands at a height of 43 m.

There by, we took an interesting class of “Chinese Calligraphy”, literally “Beautiful Writing”. Calligraphy has been appreciated as an art form in many different cultures throughout the world, but the stature of calligraphy in Chinese culture is unmatched. In China, from a very early period, calligraphy was considered not just a form of decorative art; rather, it was viewed as the supreme visual art form and a leisure activity for upper class tier/families.