Space, the final frontier as they say. Space, terribly huge and ever expanding. No maps, no GPS, no navigation systems. As more and more ventures into space are launched, the need for a navigation system as accurate as the GPS system on Earth has become very great. And some clever scientists may have found a solution to allow a spacecraft to pinpoint its location with stunning accuracy: by using dead stars!
Dead stars are of quite a few varieties, like the white dwarf and pulsars. The stars in question here are called pulsars as they pulsate with steady x-ray pulses; which are so steady and accurate that they are as reliable as atomic clocks. By using a detector to compare the pulses received at a given position, a spacecraft could easily determine its location in space with pinpoint accuracy, possibly down to just 5 km.
The GPS system on Earth uses artificial satellites to pinpoint exact location sand this future-tech won’t be too different; it will just be using pulsars instead of satellites. This groundbreaking technology is still off a few years, perhaps 15 years, give or take a few as that is the estimated amount of time it would take the scientists to miniaturize the mirrors to be used as detectors for the X-ray pulses. Regardless, this innovation will be very valuable in the near future as our expansion into space is picking up every year. This new GPs technology is actually already in use, but far from perfect at the moment. NASA’s Voyager satellites gleaned from current tech could be off by as much as 100,000 km.
No matter where we are now, it looks like astronauts will have their own GPS device system in near future. Or rather I’ll say ‘UPS’ for universal positioning system. Earth seems so little now.