An experiment by International Space Station demonstrated that blinking dead stars can help on charting the path for Spaceships. During a meeting of the American Astronomical Society, researchers with the SEXTANT (Station Explorer for X-ray Timing and Navigation Technology experiment, SEXTANT) reported this experiment. The technique works like a GPS.
Pulsars are another name for Dead stars. They emit beams of radiation that regularly sweeps past our Earth like a lighthouse. Tackling these radiation beams help the space station to find its exact location in the space. This works like how GPS uses the satellite signals to determine your position of your mobile device. Thus, a space station no longer needed to rely on radio telescope communication to determine its coordinates. Radio telescope communication gradually gets inaccurate as the spaceship move from earth.
With the help of 52 X-ray telescopes SEXTANT measure the signals from five pulsars. Astronomer Keith Gendreau of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., reported that with the help of these signals, researchers were able to locate SEXTANT’s position.
On Earth, knowing your location within 10 kilometers isn’t that impressive — GPS can do much better. But “if you’re going out to Pluto, there is no GPS navigation system,” Gendreau said. Thus, when we travel far from earth pulsar navigation will help us to estimate the positions with less effort and high accuracy.
Credits: Science News