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Autonomous Spacecraft Navigation using X-ray Pulsars

November 17, 2017 @ 10:30 am - 11:30 am

Navigation is the process of accurately ascertaining one’s position, and planning and following a route. It is the utmost requirement for a spacecraft to safely reach its destination. Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) is already poised to usher in an era of near-earth autonomous navigation on a large scale. With increasing number of deep space missions, the requirement is to develop a system that is capable of providing navigation solutions on a universal scale, the accuracy of which is independent of the distance from Earth. At present, the standard method of navigation for interplanetary spacecraft is a combined use of radio data obtained by tracking stations on Earth, and optical data from an on board camera during encounters with solar system bodies. The major disadvantage of current navigation methods is their very high dependence on ground-based operations. To achieve more autonomy and also to augment currently available navigation solutions, it is proposed to utilize celestial sources for spacecraft navigation. Such systems use signals emitted from sources like stars, sun, pulsars etc. located at great distances. Due to their unique spectral and temporal characteristics, x-ray pulsars are potential celestial candidates for deep space navigation. The objective of this study is to investigate further the methods to use fast spinning and strongly magnetized neutron stars, also known as pulsars, in defining an external reference system suitable for deep space navigation


November 17, 2017
10:30 am - 11:30 am
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