Advanced Spacecraft Navigation and Timing Using Celestial Gamma-Ray Sources
The proposed novel program will use measurements of the high-energy photon output from gamma-ray celestial sources to design a new, unique navigation system. This Gamma-ray source Localization-Induced Navigation and Timing, or "GLINT", concept provides deep-space vehicles the capability for self-navigation based upon measurements from observations of these source signals. In the past, gamma-ray sources have been coarsely localized on the sky. The Swift mission now provides high-precision source localizations, allowing the potential inversion of the differential timing problem to independently constrain the positions of spacecraft with gamma-ray detection equipment. A comprehensive study is proposed of the necessary characteristics for navigation of the high-energy (Ephoton>20 keV) celestial sources and the associated detectors used to collect their signal, detailed development of the algorithms and filters used to process the source signals and vehicle trajectory data, architecture design of an operational system, and an assessment of the potential performance and benefits directly for future deep-space exploration missions. Both on-board self-navigation techniques and post-processed techniques will be studied. Extensive simulation incorporating existing source observational data and orbit trajectory programs, including publicly available NASA software tools will provide a basis for our analysis and performance assessment.
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