Social Media Sidebar

Announcement

Please sign up, comment on articles and bring your friends!

Current poll

PlanetTech is asking:

What do you think about our new web site?

Love it, indeed
Really good solution
Same as old one
The old one was better
This is a new option

Quote of the day

People say we're running out of energy. That's only true if we stick with these old 19th century technologies. We are awash in energy from sunlight.

 

Ray Kurzweil

 

Dead stars to guide spacecraft

RATE THIS! +1
Posted in Science on 31st Mar, 2012 06:15 AM by AlexMuller

German scientists are developing a technique that allows for very precise positioning anywhere in space by picking up X-ray signals from pulsars.

 

These dense, burnt-out stars rotate rapidly, sweeping their emission across the cosmos at rates that are so stable they rival atomic clock performance.

 

This timing property is perfect for interstellar navigation, says the team.

 

If a spacecraft carried the means to detect the pulses, it could compare their arrival times with those predicted at a reference location. This would enable the craft to determine its position to an accuracy of just five kilometres anywhere in the galaxy.

 

"The principle is so simple that it will definitely have applications," said Prof Werner Becker from the Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching.

 

"These pulsars are everywhere in the Universe and their flashing is so predictable that it makes such an approach really straightforward," he told BBC News.

 

Prof Becker has been describing his team's research here at the UK National Astronomy Meeting in Manchester.

 

The proposed technique is very similar to that employed in the popular Global Positioning System, which broadcasts timing signals to the user from a constellation of satellites in orbit.

 

But GPS only works on, or just above, the Earth so it has no use beyond our planet.

 

Currently, mission controllers wanting to work out the position of their spacecraft deep in the Solar System will study the differences in time radio communications take to travel to and from the satellite. It is a complex process and requires several antennas dotted across the Earth.

 

It is also a technique that is far from precise, and the errors increase the further away the probe moves.

 

For the most distant spacecraft still in operation - Nasa's Voyager satellites, which are now approaching the very edge of the Solar System, some 18 billion km away - the errors associated with their positions are on the order of several hundred km.
 



Read original article » Back to category

Comments



 

Recent headlines

  • Posted in Science on 2017-10-22 20:21:21
    Moon colonization: many lava tube caves, water and high.....read more
    Posted in Software on 2017-10-22 20:09:36
    Localethereum promises quick and easy.....read more
    Posted in Medicine on 2017-10-22 20:05:14
    Doctors May Have Found a New Use for Ketamine..read more
    Posted in Science on 2017-10-22 04:22:31
    Blue Origin’s Breakthrough Means SpaceX Finally Has a.....read more
    Posted in Business on 2017-10-22 04:17:51
    Bitcoin boom prompts growth of coin-mining malware..read more
Posted in Business on 2013-10-10 01:33
China is working towards a manned lunar mission in about.....read more
Posted in Business on 2013-10-20 07:17
Spacex says China is their main competitor for commercial.....read more
Posted in Software on 2013-10-20 06:43
Pirate Bay Browser Clocks 1,000,000 Downloads..read more
Posted in Medicine on 2013-10-10 02:10
Google reportedly investing hundreds of millions into new.....read more
Posted in Medicine on 2013-10-14 03:13
Endothelial Cells Can Repair and Regenerate Organs,.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Spacex says China is their main competitor for commercial.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Staring at Your Phone Could Be Making You Short Sighted..read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Oculus Rift virtual reality headset coming to mobile, but.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
China is working towards a manned lunar mission in about.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Delivering drugs via nanoparticles to target mitochondria..read more

Recent Blog Posts

  • Posted by AlexMuller
    Scientists probe Neptune's depths to reveal secrets of icy.....read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    New terahertz imaging approach could speed up skin cancer.....read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Rebutting the claim that antidepressants do not work..read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Artificial neural networks decode brain activity during.....read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Four Earth-sized planets detected orbiting the nearest.....read more

Login to your Account

Login to your PlanetTech Account here

Username:
Password:
Remember me
or

Create a New Account

You just need username and password

The following errors occured:
Username:
Email:
Password:
Verify password:
Remember me