How Will Space Travelers Navigate Interstellar Space?June 25th, 2013
While companies and foundations are looking to address the propulsion systems needed for interstellar travel, how those travelers will be able to find their position and navigate is just as important. While we don’t have the luxury of orbiting GPS satellites to guide us beyond Earth, Werner Becker, Mike Bernhardt, and Axel Jessner at the Max Planck Institute have proposed the use of the pulses emitted by pulsars to navigate in a similar way. With the Sun considered as a fixes point of reference, all you need to do is keep track of a minimum of three pulsars (ideally ten, for the most accurate results), and you can pinpoint your location with surprising accuracy.
The spaceships would need to be fitted with equipment to track the pulsars, either through x-rays or radio waves, two of the easiest methods to track pulsars.
You can read the Max Planck Institute team’s paper here.