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NASA’s new Galactic Positioning System could lead to truly autonomous spacecraft

Humans have navigated by starlight for thousands of years, but NASA has a new appreciation for the twinkling bodies in our night sky. Using perfectly timed X-ray flashes from pulsars, scientists are building a Galactic Position System that will work quite similar to the global one here on earth. NASA sends an unmanned spacecraft to photograph a distant planet or moon in a process similar to pointing a rifle at the sky and firing a bullet. That projectile travels through space and takes pictures as it zooms by its target from a safe distance. It can be steered, to a…

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