Fibre-optic delivery of time and frequency to VLBI station
The quality of Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) radio observations predominantly relies on precise and ultra-stable time and frequency (T&F) standards, usually hydrogen masers (HM), maintained locally at each VLBI station. Here, we present an operational solution in which the VLBI observations are routinely carried out without use of a local HM, but using remote synchronization via a stabilized, long-distance fibre-optic link. The T&F reference signals, traceable to international atomic timescale (TAI), are delivered to the VLBI station from a dedicated timekeeping laboratory. Moreover, we describe a proof-of-concept experiment where the VLBI station is synchronized to a remote strontium optical lattice clock during the observation.