Accession Number:

ADA523788

Title:

Spacecraft Navigation Using X-ray Pulsars

Descriptive Note:

Journal article

Corporate Author:

NAVAL RESEARCH LAB WASHINGTON DC E O HULBURT CENTER FOR SPACE RESEARCH

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

2006-01-01

Pagination or Media Count:

9.0

Abstract:

Pulsars are the collapsed remnants of massive stars that have become neutron stars, where a mass exceeding that of the Sun is packed into an area about the size of the DC Beltway. Many of these neutron stars spin rapidly hundreds of times per second on their axis and emit pulsations at the spin frequency in much the same manner as a lighthouse. These natural lighthouses can also be used for navigation, that is, determining the position, time, and attitude of a spacecraft. Because of their enormous mass and relatively simple structure, pulsars are exceptionally stable rotators whose timing stability rivals that of conventional atomic clocks. A navigation system based on celestial sources will be independent of GPS and available in any Earth orbit as well as in interplanetary and interstellar space. NRL has undertaken a program to characterize and model X-ray pulsars and build X-ray detectors for a planned flight demonstration of this technology.

Subject Categories:

  • Astronomy
  • Space Navigation and Guidance

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE