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Dead Stars To Guide Spacecraft

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.

These dense, burnt-out stars rotate rapidly, sweeping their emission across the cosmos at rates that are so stable they rival atomic clock performance.

This timing property is perfect for interstellar navigation, says the team.

If a spacecraft carried the means to detect the pulses, it could compare their arrival times with those predicted at a reference location. This would enable the craft to determine its position to an accuracy of just five kilometres anywhere in the galaxy.

"The principle is so simple that it will definitely have applications," said Prof Werner Becker from the Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics i

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Added: Apr-1-2012 Occurred On: Apr-1-2012
By: drynwhyl
In:
Science and Technology
Tags: space, navigation, spacecraft, gps, interstellar, x-rays, pulsars
Views: 2317 | Comments: 9 | Votes: 1 | Favorites: 0 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 1
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  • something is wrong here, i don't want to press the april-fool-button, yet, but as far as i remember pulsars, - and this is what has been introduced -, emit their signals in the radio-emission section of the spectrum, not gamma-rays.
    The whole concept is a bit strange since it requires to know the precise position of the emitters which is far from being precise for pulsars, when i remember discussions about their distance with an error margin of +/- 3500 ly
    also GPS sends a proper timing signal, More..

    Posted Apr-2-2012 By 

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    • @TamaraMJ Professor Werner Becker seems like a real person, as does the event in question, according to guest list i found on the Manchester University website:

      http://www.jodrellbank.manchester.ac.uk/meetings/nam2012/attendees.html

      Doesn't seem like an april fools at least, but as to what you say about the concept, i couldn't really comment on its feasibility.

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    • @TamaraMJ

      The article speaks about X-rays not Gamma but you are right. The pulsars broadcast radio waves not gamma nor X radiation.

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  • What a bad joke at the end, as any treky will tell u in the future there is no such thing as money so selling maps to the enterprise doesn't make sense. LOL

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  • We need GPS for four dimensions (space-time), not just three (space).
    Einstein is amused by your Euclidean fixation.

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    • @govett

      If time travel exists, then the universe is pre-determined. Why? Cause we are here reading this. If not, then we must invoke the predestination clause which leads to everything being guided by fate.

      Einstein said in short 'god does not roll dice' when discussing quantum physics which is free will based (oppenheimer's cat, heisenburg's uncertainty principle).

      So to put time travel as another dimension (space-time) then that means we are predetermined by the cosmos for every action More..

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  • Not feasible.
    Our distance calculation methods are not accurate enough. We're talking of HUGE distances and with GPS we have a fail of 1 or 2 meters on a SMALL distance between receiver and transmitter, imagine on a HUGE distance which is also inaccurate.

    Meanwhile, the concept is VALID.

    Voyager probe has the "map" in case it was found by an alien civilization and this map points at the known pulsars indicating the direction to take to find Earth according to where it is in regard More..

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  • Seems pointless looking for a pulsar when you can navigate using galactic centers are a source of reference or any number of stars.

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