Using Pulsars To Navigate in Space

Autonomous Spacecraft Navigation Based on Pulsar Timing Information

"Pulsars are rapidly rotating neutron stars that are observable as variable celestial sources of electromagnetic radiation. Their periodic signals have timing stabilities comparable to atomic clocks and provide characteristic temporal signatures that can be used as natural navigation beacons, quite similar to the use of GPS satellites for navigation on Earth."

Keith's note: This is the plaque placed on the Voyager 1 and 2 probes, now heading out of our solar system into interstellar space. According to Wikipedia: "The drawing in the lower left-hand corner of the cover is the pulsar map previously sent as part of the plaques on Pioneers 10 and 11. It shows the location of the solar system with respect to 14 pulsars, whose precise periods are given."

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