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Space & Astronomy

Spacecraft could navigate using pulsars

By T.K. Randall
April 2, 2012 · Comment icon 5 comments

Image Credit: NASA
Future spacecraft could one day use dead stars as a way to determine their position in space.
Scientists in Germany are working on a means with which a spacecraft could pinpoint its location in space by detecting X-ray signals from pulsars - dead, dense stars that rotate extremely rapidly with remarkable regularity. "The principle is so simple that it will definitely have applications," said Prof Werner Becker. "These pulsars are everywhere in the Universe and their flashing is so predictable that it makes such an approach really straightforward."
Spacecraft could one day navigate through the cosmos using a particular type of dead star as a kind of GPS. German scientists are developing a technique that allows for very precise positioning anywhere in space by picking up X-ray signals from pulsars.


Source: BBC News | Comments (5)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by spud the mackem 12 years ago
We dont have to worry about that,because humans will never go into deep space,as they will become extinct before it can happen,having wiped each other out.
Comment icon #2 Posted by DieChecker 12 years ago
Would that be a form of "dead" reckoning?
Comment icon #3 Posted by TattooMan 12 years ago
@ spud the mackem; That's a real optimistic view of the future there genius. Why are you even here? Sites like this are for open-minded people who are a bit intellectual. Not for little trollers. Additionally, there were people who said we would never break the sound barrier. Really? The same people said we would never go to the moon. OK? Now we are planning to go to Mars. I am so happy people like you are not scientists or have much intelligence to stop the progress of human evolution and exploration.
Comment icon #4 Posted by questionmark 12 years ago
Would that be a form of "dead" reckoning? No, more like lighthouse triangulation (if we want to talk in nautical terms). Dead reckoning would be the input from the compass and the log, whereby you take the speed and the direction to estimate your position. Generally ends up on a reef because you don't consider all the variability like currents, side winds and so on. In this case we have some pulsars pulsating at known positions at a known rate. The variations in rate signify speed (to or from) and the triangulation the relative position.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Hybrid89 12 years ago
In my opinion, Im sure there was a time when the thought of deep sea exploration or traveling to the moon, or even flying great distances in a machine wouldve been thought of as impossible. Yet here we stand. We've done all of those things. Now im a firm believer that scientists have found or discovered a clean new energy and 'could be' testing it at the moemnt. Again its my own speculation. I think thatwhen a new efficient Energy resource is out there for everyone to use, then Space travel wont be far off. Ive seen a lot of threads on here about 'ecosystems' how would we have food in the long... [More]


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