Station Explorer for X-Ray Timing and Navigation (SEXTANT)

SEXTANT

Develop capabilities that will enable sustained human presence throughout the solar system by using Pulsars for autonomous navigation.

X-ray navigation (XNAV) and X-ray communications (XCOM) are revolutionary concepts, as identified in the NASA technology roadmap, that will enable sustained human presence throughout the solar system, as well as enhance and enable science in the outer solar system and beyond. High bandwidth communications and advanced navigation capabilities will enable future deep space exploration of the solar system and pinpoint navigation in near-Earth space. The X-ray navigation (XNAV) and communications (XCOM) project elements will focus on the development of the X-ray based technologies capable of providing accurate autonomous navigation and high bandwidth communications, respectively, beyond the inner solar system. Technology test beds including those that utilize the ISS will be considered.

Technologies:

X-ray Navigation (XNAV): The Station Explorer for X-ray Timing and Navigation Technology (SEXTANT) will demonstrate a GPS-like absolute position determination capability by observing millisecond pulsars, which will enable autonomous navigation throughout the solar system and beyond.

X-ray Communications (XCOM): Exploit extremely low beam divergence of X-rays to provide high-rate deep-space, low transmit power, highly physically secure data links, and enable new penetrating communications capabilities. (XCOM is not part of the SEXTANT technology demonstration of XNAV.)

Principal Technologist: Project Manager:
Ron Litchford (ron.litchford@nasa.gov) Jason Mitchell (jason.w.mitchell@nasa.gov)


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