Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

China's XPNAV 1 To Use X-Ray Pulsars For Navigation

China just launched XPNAV 1, the world's first x-ray navigation system. The X-ray Pulsar Navigation satellite, which the country launched on Nov. 10 aboard a solid-fueled Long March 11 rocket from the Jiuquan Space Launch Center in the Gobi Desert,


(XPNAV-1 X-ray Pulsar Navigation satellite)

The navigation system relies on x-ray pulsars found in systems with two stars. Essentially a dense neutron star's strong magnetic field pulls in gas from the other star, and when the gas impacts the neutron star, it generates a strong X-ray hotspot. If the neutron star's spin axis and magnetic axis are not aligned, as the neutron star rotates, pulses will be generated as the X-ray hotspots move in and out of the observer's view. This turns out to be a useful tool for navigation.

Millisecond pulsars generate x-ray pulses at such short intervals, that by measuring the time differential from multiple known pulsars (like a GPS using pulsars instead of satellites), a spacecraft can determine its location in the solar system within 5 kilometers (3.1 miles), which is pretty good for deep space. The trick is to find pulsars that provide pulses at a consistent pace; x-ray pulsars often speed up or slow down the frequency of their bursts.

If all goes as planned, the XPNAV 1 will both gather data to build the pulsar x-ray database and then be able to use that data to independently verify its location.

Science fiction writers of the 1950's were fascinated by this idea. In his 1952 story Troubled Star, George O. Smith described space beacons:

"And what is a beacon?"

"It is a phenomenon caused by the Doppler effect when traveling at galactic speeds. In this case, when coming through this rift at fifteen hundred light years per hour, a three-day variable star will appear to the observer as a rapidly blinking light..."

"We use the three-day variable to denote the galactic travel lanes. Very effective.
(Read more about Smith's space beacon)

In his 1956 story The Repairman, Harry Harrison described a hyperspace beacon:

Every beacon has a code signal as part of its radiation and represents a measurable point in hyperspace. Triangulation and quadrature works for navigation - only it follows its own rules.

For a hyperspace jump, you need at least four beacons for an accurate fix.
(Read more about Harrison's hyperspace beacon)

In 1980, Star Trek Maps was published; it consisted of a set of four maps and an Introduction to Navigation booklet. In the accompanying pamphlet, they described the standard navigation system using "sub-space beacons", and then described the emergency system that used pulsars as a GPS system. It included the real equations as well.


(Star Trek Maps: galactic coordinates and basic vector calculus)

XPNAV 1 is the world's first x-ray navigation system to go in orbit. NASA's Station Explorer for X-ray Timing and Navigation Technology (SEXTANT), will not be installed on the ISS until 2017.

Via PopSci.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/15/2016)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

Star Trek Voyager Replica Tricorder And Galaxy Quest
'They designed those controls after watching you...take her out!'

Chang'e-5 Lunar Lander Seeks Water
'... get out the solar power apparatus and send it down to us from the air-lock by the crane.' - Max Valier, 1931.

Apollo 8 Astronauts Pass The Equigravisphere
'... divers other objects, firearms and bottles, abandoned to themselves, held themselves up as by enchantment.' - Jules Verne, 1867.

China Treating Helium-3 On The Moon Seriously
Nothing like the movies to show what science fictional ideas might work.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Current News

Star Trek Voyager Replica Tricorder And Galaxy Quest
'They designed those controls after watching you...take her out!'

Rolls Royce Electric Airplane Breaks Records
'A white electric plane approached at great speed...'

Chang'e-5 Lunar Lander Seeks Water
'... get out the solar power apparatus and send it down to us from the air-lock by the crane.'

I Really Want A Folding Computer
'...A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled.'

A Kill Switch For Your Car?
'The car faltered as the external command came to brake...'

Scientifiction, Searchlight of Science
'And science goes on, with scientifiction as its searchlight.'

Wearable Biomedical Sensors Printed Directly On Your Skin
'The dragon is a skin computer... People put it on their arms and exchange personal data.'

Artificial, Implantable Kidney Prototype
'George Walt's corporate existence proved the workability of wholly mechanical organs...'

Ultra-short Pulse Laser Kills Bacteria In Vivo
'...coherent beams at precise wave-lengths passing through her flesh to zap foreign molecules within her body.'

Bioprint Prototype Handheld Bioprinter
'He turned the little art-derm nozzle...'

Betty Crocker, The First Company Avatar
'After six months of surgery and psycho-conditioning, he was identical with the other 496 Mr. Prestos...'

Augmented Reality Book Covers Reveal The Inner Book
'The E-paper holograms leaped from lurid covers...'

The First Multi-User Hologram Table?
Let the Wookiee win.

Apollo 8 Astronauts Pass The Equigravisphere
'... divers other objects, firearms and bottles, abandoned to themselves, held themselves up as by enchantment.'

Stellar Pizza Is A Pizza Robot That Comes To You
'No hand touched the food...'

Yamaha MOTOROiD Living Motorcycle Experiment
'He had never ridden any motorized device that lacked onboard steering and balance systems.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.