StarNAV: An Architecture for Autonomous Spacecraft Navigation by the Relativistic Perturbation of Starlight
Project runs from 05/15/2020 to 01/14/2021
Exploration missions to the outer Solar System (e.g., Neptune, Kuiper belt objects) or to the interstellar medium present several challenges for conventional spacecraft designs. One of the greatest challenges is a means for navigation, as Earth-based tracking with the Deep Space Network (DSN) becomes less desirable due to high cost, decreased performance at long ranges, and long light-time delays. Indeed, light time delays at Neptune are over four hours (one way), making control of spacecraft during critical events nearly impossible—and this problem only becomes worse as we move to the Kuiper belt or to interstellar space. This proposal suggests a new (and completely different) way of autonomously navigating a spacecraft anywhere in the Solar System or beyond. We call this new technique StarNAV.