‘Satnav’ could pave man’s way beyond solar systemMarch 29th, 2012 - 6:59 pm ICT by IANS
London, March 29 (IANS) Satellite navigation (satnav) doesn’t work in space, but scientists may have hit upon a new way to overcome this problem, using pulsars to guide spaceships through stars.
Satnav could be using neutron stars to steer a course through the universe, just as sailors of yore navigated the vast seas by the stars and the moon.
Werner Becker, professor of astrophysics at Max Planck Institute, Germany, who led the study, says: “Looking forward, it’s incredibly exciting to think that we have now the technology to chart our route to other stars.”
The new system would use X-ray light from pulsars to ‘triangulate’ a position in space - and works everywhere in the universe to within a few miles, the Daily Mail reports.
When stars much bigger than our Sun die, it is marked by a dramatic supernova explosion that destroys most of the star. But many leave behind compact, incredibly dense remnants known as neutron stars. Those detected have strong magnetic fields that focus emission into two highly directional beams.
The neutron star rotates rapidly and if the beam points in the direction of our planet we see a pulse of radiation at extremely regular intervals — hence the name pulsar.
A team from Max Planck is developing a navigation technology for spacecraft based on the regular emission of X-ray light from pulsars.
Their periodic signals have timing stabilities comparable to atomic clocks and provide characteristic time signatures that can be used as natural navigation beacons, similar to the use of GPS satellites for navigation on Earth.
By comparing the arrival times of the pulses measured on board the navigator spacecraft with those predicted at a reference location, the spacecraft position can be determined with an accuracy of few miles, everywhere in the solar system and far beyond.
- Supernova remnant erupts in enormous flares - May 12, 2011
- NASA telescope discovers youngest pulsar to date - Nov 04, 2011
- Eclipsed pulsar could be key to understanding compressed space matter - Aug 18, 2010
- Scientists discover 'dramatic flares, bursts from mysterious pulsar' - Oct 15, 2010
- Indian astronomy satellite to study universe at multi-wavelengths - Jul 16, 2012
- NASA finds 30-yr-old 'youngest' nearby black hole - Nov 16, 2010
- NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory finds youngest nearby black hole - Nov 16, 2010
- New tabletop device that produces high energy X-rays at lower costs - Oct 25, 2010
- Scientists find oldest isolated pulsar ever - Feb 27, 2009
- Space observatory briefly blinded by record-breaking x-ray blast - Jul 15, 2010
- Crab Nebula shoots off surprising flares - Jan 07, 2011
- NASA's Swift satellite finds unseen black-hole-powered galaxies - Jan 21, 2011
- Origin of key cosmic explosions revealed - Feb 18, 2010
- Spinning stars help scientists 'weigh' planets in our Solar System - Aug 24, 2010
- NASA finds giant ring of black holes - Feb 10, 2011
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