GPS (Global Positioning System) – the satellite-based navigation system which has been helping an estimated four billion people locate themselves on Earth, could soon be found being used in space. NASA is now looking to use the navigation system to pilot in and around the lunar orbit during future ARTEMIS missions. A team at NASA is developing a special receiver that would be able to pick up location signals provided by the 24 to 32 operational GPS satellites. The navigation system is operated by the U.S. military about 12,550 miles above Earth’s surface, and can be used by anyone with a GPS receiver.NASA’s ARTEMIS program is an ongoing crewed spaceflight program carried out by NASA, U.S. commercial spaceflight companies, and international partners such as ESA with the goal of landing the first woman and the next man on the lunar surface by 2024. Artemis would be the first step towards the long-term goal of establishing a sustainable presence on the Moon, laying the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy, and eventually sending humans to Mars.The GPS signals provide location data used in vehicle navigation systems, interactive maps, and tracking devices of all types, among many other applications. Such a capability could soon also provide navigational solutions to astronauts and ground controllers operating the Orion spacecraft, the Gateway in orbit around the Moon, and other lunar surface missions.GPS is made up of three parts: satellites, ground stations, and receivers. The ground stations monitor the satellites, and a receiver, like those found in a phone or car, by constantly listening for a signal from the satellites. The receiver calculates its distance from four or more satellites to pinpoint a location. Instead of navigating streets on Earth, a spacecraft equipped with an advanced GPS receiver may soon be paired with precise mapping data to help astronauts track their locations in the vast ocean of space between the shores of Earth and the Moon, or across the craterous lunar surface.Navigation services near the Moon have historically been provided by NASA’s communications networks. The GPS network, which has more satellites and can better accommodate additional users, could help ease the load on NASA’s networks, thereby freeing up that bandwidth for other data transmission. According to NASA engineer and Principal Investigator at Goddard Space Flight Center, Munther Hassouneh, the team has been trying to use existing infrastructure for navigational purposes, instead of building new infrastructure around the Moon.NASA has been working to extend GPS-based navigation to high altitudes, above the orbit of the GPS satellites, for more than a decade and now believes its use at the Moon, which is about 250,000 miles from Earth, can be done. According to Jason Mitchell, Chief Technologist for Goddard’s Mission Engineering and Systems Analysis Division, the team is using infrastructure that was built for surface navigation on Earth for applications beyond Earth. Its use for higher-altitude navigation has now been firmly established with the success of missions like Magnetospheric Multiscale mission (MMS) and the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES). In fact, with MMS, NASA is already nearly half way to the Moon.The lunar GPS receiver is based on the Goddard-developed Navigator GPS, which engineers began developing in the early 2000s specifically for NASA’s MMS mission, the first-ever mission to study how the Sun’s and Earth’s magnetic fields connect and disconnect. The goal was to build a spacecraft-based receiver and associated algorithms that could quickly acquire and track GPS radio waves even in weak-signal areas. Navigator is now considered an enabling technology for MMS.Without Navigator GPS, the four identically equipped MMS spacecrafts couldn’t fly in their tight formation in an orbit that reaches as far as 115,000 miles from Earth’s center — far above the GPS constellation and about halfway to the Moon.TECHNOLOGY ENHANCEMENTS REQUIREDExtending the use of GPS to the Moon will require some enhancements over MMS’s onboard GPS system, including a high-gain antenna, an enhanced clock, and updated electronics. The team is addressing those challenges — thanks to Goddard’s years-long investment in important enabling technologies, particularly in the area of miniaturization. According to Jason Mitchell, Goddard’s IRAD (Internal Research and Development) program has positioned them to solve some of the problems associated with using GPS in and around the Moon. A smaller, more robust GPS receiver could also support the navigational needs of SmallSats, including a new SmallSat platform Goddard engineers are now developing.The team’s current lunar GPS receiver concept is based on NavCube, a new capability developed from the merger of MMS’s Navigator GPS and SpaceCube, a reconfigurable, very fast flight computer platform. The more powerful NavCube, developed with IRAD support, was recently launched to the International Space Station where it is expected to employ its enhanced ability to process GPS signals as part of a demonstration of X-ray communications in space.The GPS processing power of NavCube combined with a receiver for lunar distances should provide the capabilities needed to use GPS at the Moon. Earlier this year, the team simulated the performance of the lunar GPS receiver and found promising results. By the end of this year, the team plans to complete the lunar NavCube hardware prototype and explore options for a flight demonstration.
I know it’s pre-season. No one needs to remind of that. But it’s still football, and like all of the Ravens faithful I was glad it was back this past Thursday night! M&T was rockin’, and all was well with the world. You knew it was going to be a good night when Mr. #IceUpSon himself – Steve Smith Sr. – appeared in gold bottom shoes! The mercurial and still fleet footed receiver appeared even faster with those shoes! I mean, come on! Ladarius Webb was on the sideline….without his dreads! Webby – please grow them back. You don’t seem like your old self without them (and boy oh boy do we need your old self to make an appearance this season). Justin Tucker nailing 67 yard field goals while warming up. He is a stone cold rock star. We are so fortunate to have gone from Matt Stover to Justin Tucker. Everyone else in between doesn’t count. From memory it was Hauschka and Cundiff….and Cundiff definitely doesn’t count. And we all won’t forget the field goal that Hauschka missed in Minnesota either. Because we’re hard core Ravens fans that’s why. Juice caught a couple of balls out of the backfield. I liked that. Want to see more of it. Want to see more of Juice being used. I’m counting on Trestman to get the most out of his Swiss Army fullback…I mean H-back….. I mean tailback….. Steve Smith made a nice catch and a nice move down field. That’s enough. (Telepathically communicating with John Harbaugh to take him out. We all know what he can do. We don’t have Breshad Perriman healthy at this point. Can’t afford to lose Smitty. Can’t). O-line looking in mid-season form. Firing off of the ball on running plays. Taliaferro matching their intensity and running hard with his shoulders square. It’s a good look. O-line also giving #EliteByNow QB Joe Flacco ample time to go through his progressions and find open receivers. Flacco also took off for a nice run around the left end. Better athlete – much better than given credit for. Dude’s got some wheels. 4th and inches. Pre-season or not, you know coach Harbaugh is going for it. In an attack mode already. You know he’s thinking “If we can’t get a half a yard…” Got it! Credit o-line here; it’s big, strong, experienced and deep. Ravens honored OJ Brigance as their first legend. Great sign of respect here. Lots of misty eyes everywhere. No words…. Ravens defense has been lights out thus far against a Brees-less Saints offense. Lots of three-and-outs. Saints can’t run and they can’t pass. Time to get the first team defense off of the field. Like the Saints, I’ve seen enough. Oh, and I’ve seen enough of Rob Ryan. First it was Buddy (yes, I know I’m dating myself), then it was Rex, and now Rob. I don’t know about you, but I’m all Ryaned out. Seriously. Weird seeing Asa Jackson wearing #27, Ray Rice’s old jersey. Then he went down with a knee injury. Thought his best chance to make the team was as a return specialist. Doesn’t look good. Great special effects on the Ravens TD on TV. Looked like something straight out of Madden.. They flipped it around and showed it from a different angle. Way cool.. NFL can learn something from the UFC Fight Pass. You can select from 6 different camera angles. Way cool. Again. Just saw Ryan Jensen take down 2 d-linemen with one block. Did it from the center position. Ravens are deep there. He is playing the position well, and John Urschel can also play man the spot. Ravens have great depth behind Jeremy Zuttah. Lots of competition. Jeremy Butler couldn’t hang on to the ball right by the sideline. Looked like the DB got a piece of it, and it would have been one heck of a catch. But it would have definitely have helped his cause. For a guy fighting for a roster spot, that would have given him some separation vs the other receivers that are on the proverbial bubble. He’s been on fire in practice, but has to come through under the bright lights – when it counts. Mike Campanaro got himself loose on a deep crossing pattern, and scored on a pass from Matt Schaub. If – and that’s a big if – he can stay healthy, not only will he make the team, but he can still be a poor man’s Wes Welker. He’s not dropping any passes any time soon, that much is for sure. Speaking of Schaub, there’s been some whispers around camp due to his interceptions, but he said that he’ll try things in practice that he wouldn’t in a game. After watching his performance, I have to believe what he said is true. On the TD to Camp, he really stepped up in to the pocket, really stepped in to the throw and hit him in stride. It was really impressive to see. Darren Waller is wearing Jacoby Jones’ old #12, and he looks like him – supersized! At first glance I mistook him for Jacoby – but then he actually caught the ball. My goodness, he is a very tall receiver. Don’t know how they get them that big at Georgia Tech, but I’m glad that we finally got one of those Yellow Jacket receivers. Made a nice catch with a DB drapped all over him, showing great concentration, focus and hands. He drew a few pass interference calls to boot. So far I’ve been very impressed by him. He keeps it up he’ll definitely make the team. Looks to have a high ceiling if he keeps developing. And you know for a fact he can block. I mean, look at the college offense he came out of. Buck Allen seemed to have some opening day jitters. He needs to focus more, and lower his pads. Reminds me a bit of Taliaferro a year ago. He’ll learn in the course of a year just like Lorenzo did. Still, I like the way he runs and particularly his body lean. Sort of Charles White back when he was at USC. Both always running downhill. Brandin Cooks for a TD on a bubble screen. Real slick receiver. Ravens had their eye on him pre-draft last year. None of our second and third stringers had a shot at catching him. Maxx Williams just took a linebacker and drove him from here to there. We all knew he could catch, but my goodness he can block too. Looked like the Gronk 2.0 as he took his man down. Kevin Gausman wearing some Saints gear. Brah….this is B-More. That stuff just doesn’t work here. Get that weak sauce outta here. Seriously. Anthony Levine is a tackling machine. Steady not flashy player. No wonder Harbaugh likes him. Plays safety and corner, both equally well. Gives the Ravens much needed depth. It’s the middle of the third quarter and I’m still looking for an Arthur Brown sighting. Time for me to launch my annual #FreeArthurBrown campaign. I don’t think he’s in Harbaugh’s dawghouse (I know, it doesn’t really exist