NASA and ESA work on a GPS-like system for the Moon

NASA and ESA are developing  ways to help rockets navigate to the Moon autonomously.


With humanity ever closer to its return to the Moon , the world’s major space agencies are working on satellite navigation systems to facilitate travel from Earth.

In this sense , NASA and ESA are working on GPS-type systems that will be installed on rockets that will travel more than 384,400 kilometers. How will they work?

GPS and satellite navigation in space

The only current way to get from point A to point B in space is to do complicated physics-based calculations, customized for each mission. As the spacecraft drifts through space, the only point of reference is Earth. Therefore, you need to send a signal to the planet in order to understand where it is.

According to Elizabeth Rooney, a senior engineer at Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd., to Insider , “the cheapest way to bring satellite navigation into deep space is to take advantage of the satellites around our planet.” The company is working with ESA to develop satellite navigation in space.

In 2019, four satellites were able to determine their position in space using signals from Earth’s GPS satellites. However, it was about halfway to the Moon.

For the remaining sector, probes are being sent to try to capture the signals from Earth. ESA will send NaviMoon via the Lunar Pathfinder satellite : it is believed that it could determine the position of spacecraft with a precision of 60 meters. The probe is expected to be able to navigate autonomously in lunar orbit.

On the American side, its own detector probe developed with the support of the Italian Space Agency will be sent. Their goal is to launch the first of these receivers to the moon’s surface in 2024 as part of the Lunar GNSS Receiver Experiment.

networks in sets

With Pathfinder, a fleet of satellites will be started that will keep the future colony that will reside on the Moon in communication . The European space agency’s system will be called Moonlight .

ESA wants to test it initially in 2027 before forging a more complete infrastructure in 2030.

NASA , for its part , will support LunaNet , a proprietary network that will work in conjunction with Moonlight .

Later, lunar colonists could have access to high-speed Internet, video conference with loved ones on Earth, stream shows, and create their own content from space.