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Institute of Computer Science

GNSS versus Lightning


Future space navigation technologies will rely on sensors that use natural phenomena instead of GNSS signals.

Graphics: Lopez et al.

University of Wuerzburg researchers have devised a sensor that can work in similar form to GNSS receivers. The study, published this month in Results in Engineering, proposes to use lightning phenomena as a resource for space navigation, in particular for satellites around Earth. "Specific sensors embedded in satellites and tracking lightning phenomena, would allow computing relative navigation solutions for spacecraft constellations, at intersatellite distances of above 500 meters" according the study. In the future, this idea (and the sensor proposed) could be used for deep space exploration in planets where lightning events are known to exist, such as Venus, Jupiter, Saturn or Uranus. Future research will focus on developing the sensor and improve the Technological Readiness on space, in particular through a Cubesat mission.

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Contact: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Sergio Montenegro