Pulsars as accelerometers in space–towards solving the “lost in space” problem

Joel T. Runnels, Demoz Gebre-Egziabher

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Navigation in space using x-ray pulsars has been frequently suggested as a means by which a spacecraft may determine its position in space independent of Earth-based measurements. Most research towards practical x-ray navigation has focused on using time-difference of arrival of signals to determine the range of the spacecraft along the line-of-sight to the pulsar. In this paper, we show that pulsar signals may be used to measure the spacecraft’s acceleration along the line-of-sight to the pulsar. Given a sufficient number of acceleration measurements, the full three-dimensional acceleration vector of the spacecraft may be determined. Since acceleration is a function of the spacecraft’s position in the solar system, this acceleration vector may be used to determine the position of the spacecraft, even if no prior position estimation is known.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAIAA Scitech 2020 Forum
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA
Pages1-15
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9781624105951
DOIs
StatePublished - 2020
EventAIAA Scitech Forum, 2020 - Orlando, United States
Duration: Jan 6 2020Jan 10 2020

Publication series

NameAIAA Scitech 2020 Forum
Volume1 PartF

Conference

ConferenceAIAA Scitech Forum, 2020
CountryUnited States
CityOrlando
Period1/6/201/10/20

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research has made use of data obtained through the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center Online Service, provided by the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. The scientific results reported in this article are based in part on data obtained from the Chandra Data Archive. This research has made use of data obtained from the Chandra Source Catalog, provided by the Chandra X-ray Center (CXC) as part of the Chandra Data Archive. The authors also acknowledge the NASA/Minnesota Space Grant Consortium, the Air Force Research Lab University Nanosat Program, the University of Minnesota Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR), and Minnesota’s Discovery, Research, and InnoVation Economy (MnDRIVE) for providing funding to support this work. The authors also acknowledge the contributions of Dr. Lindsay Glesener in her assistance with obtaining and analyzing x-ray data and assessing the level of background noise to use in the simulation studies. While the authors gratefully acknowledge the aforementioned individuals and organizations, the views and conclusions expressed in this paper are those of the authors alone and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of any organization.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA. All rights reserved.

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