Spacecraft Navigation Using X-Ray Pulsars

Abstract:

The term XNAV (X-ray navigation) is used to describe a variety of means of using celestial X-ray source observations for spacecraft attitude, position, velocity, and time determination. Several classes of source observations can be utilized for different aspects of the navigation process, as shown below.

  • Pulsar Source Observations: time of arrival and phase (absolute navigation and time correction)
  • Aperiodic Source Observations: noise intensity correlation across platforms (relative navigation and timing)
  • Bright Source Observations: occultation by atmospheres or bodies (position and attitude determination)
  • Bright Source Observations: X-ray band star camera (attitude determination)

For this paper the focus will be primarily on the exploitation of pulsar source observations as position, velocity, and time references.

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Graven, P., J.T. Collins, J.E. Hansen and S.I. Sheikh. 7th International ESA Conference on Guidance, Navigation & Control Systems. Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland. June 2–5, 2008.