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China Launches X-Ray Pulsar Navigation 1 (XPNAV) Satellite To Take Mars Mission Forward

First Posted: Nov 29, 2016 03:00 AM EST
Long March 11 Launches | XPNAV-1 | KNews #63
China has launched the world’s first X-ray navigation satellite that is designed to function like a GPS guidance system.
(Photo : KerbalEssences/YouTube)

China also seems to have set its sights on Mars. It has taken a step to launch a navigation satellite. This may open the doors for an eventual manned mission for Mars as envisaged by China.

NASA too has such plans underway and is getting set to launch a similar system next year. Yet for the moment, it looks like China is now one up on the Mars Mission.

X-Ray Navigation Satellite

China has launched the world's first X-ray navigation satellite that is designed to function like a GPS guidance system. This system will seek to assist China in placing rovers on Mars and the Moon.

According to John Pye, manager of the Space Research Centre at the University of Leicester, the X-ray Pulsar Navigation 1 (XPNAV) satellite is capable of measuring radiation to spot the precise location of an aircraft. In his words, "It is the cosmic equivalent of GPS."

Essentially, pulsar navigation helps reduce the extended lag time that spaceships need to put up while traveling close to outer planets, reveals The Inquisitr.

Cost-Effective Space Travel

If plans work well, the Chinese satellite launched will create a new type of navigation system in the next 10 years. This new system will certainly make space travel more cost effective, Pye said.

"Having at least a semi-autonomous system makes things easier in terms of navigation as you get to the outer solar system, the outer planets like Jupiter, Saturn and beyond."

NASA has put some of their best brains as well on a system such as this one. It would shorten the hours of lag time. Pulsar-based navigation helps space travelers map their location with more precision and speed. They need not completely depend on the Earth-bound antenna.

This new technology that is on NASA's agenda as well will help scientists put rovers on the surface of the Moon and Mars. "This continued research will greatly support future humankind space exploration."

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