There are 31 working satellites within the Global Positioning System (GPS), and they all have built-in, highly accurate atomic clocks. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently developed a new Deep-Space GPS that is able to navigate on its own using celestial objects.


Virtually all the connected individuals on the earth are reliant on GPS, but that hasn’t been the case for space exploration — it hasn’t been possible or even comprehensible. Thanks to NASA’s new creation called SEXTANT, the Station Explorer for X-Ray Timing and Navigation Technology, it’s possible that astronauts and robots will be able to better navigate throughout deep space.


“This demonstration is a breakthrough for future deep space exploration,” said Jason Mitchell, SEXTANT’s project manager. “As the first to demonstrate X-ray navigation fully autonomously and in real-time in space, we are now leading the way.”


According to Outer Places, this new Deep-Space GPS has already been successfully tested. The SEXTANT was able to identify a telescope called the NICER (Neutron-star Interior Composition Explorer) that is connected to the International Space Station (ISS).


Daily Mail adds that this technology, which was developed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, uses the timings of the signal changes (as well as the position of other options) attached to celestial pulsars to triangulate where the signals are coming from.


“We’re doing very cool science and using the space station as a platform to execute that science, which in turn enables X-ray navigation,” said Keith Gendreau, of the Goddard Space Flight Center and principal investigator of NICER. “The technology will help humanity navigate and explore our Galaxy.”


The ultimate goal for this breakthrough research is to develop additional sectors and hardware to make pulsar-based navigation readily available on all future spacecraft.