Relativistic Interstellar Navigation Applications

Small Craft Navigation

The goal of this research is to write an autonomous GNC (Guidance, Navigation and Control) algorithm that takes into account relativistic effects recorded during high-speed travel. This will allow us to “cast a wider net” with small spacecraft that are moving very quickly - we can take the same measurements Voyager is taking, for example, but by using hundreds of small satellites spread over a larger area. This would allow us to gather more precise data in less time.

Measuring and mapping Distant Stars

Parallax is used to measure the radial distance to stars - however if the stars are too far away, then parallax is too small, and we can’t see it. Currently we use the Earth’s orbit of the Sun to calculate parallax. If we can use a larger distance, such as that from a distant spacecraft to the Sun, we could use that data to measure stars that are further away.


the parallax technique, used HERE to measure the distance from earth to the Pleiades.

Credit: Alexandra Angelich, NRAO/AUI/NSF.