NASA has invented a new type of autonomous space navigation that could see human-made spacecraft heading into the far reaches of the Solar System, and even farther – by using pulsars as guide stars. It’s called Station Explorer for X-ray Timing and Navigation Technology, or SEXTANT
What is it?
- it uses X-ray technology to see millisecond pulsars, using them much like a GPS uses satellites.
- SEXTANT works like a GPS receiver getting signals from at least three GPS satellites, all of which are equipped with atomic clocks. The receiver m
- It will enable sustained human presence throughout the solar system, as well as enhance and enable science in the outer solar system and beyond.
- High bandwidth communications and advanced navigation capabilities will enable future deep space exploration of the solar system and pinpoint navigation in near-Earth space.
- The X-ray navigation (XNAV) and communications (XCOM) project elements will focus on the development of the X-ray based technologies capable of providing accurate autonomous navigation and high bandwidth communications, respectively, beyond the inner solar system.
- easures the time delay from each satellite and converts this into spatial coordinates.
What are Pulsar
A special kind of neutron star, known as a pulsar, emits periodic -- or repeating -- bursts of radio waves, X-rays and gamma rays