NASA has tapped a team of aerospace, military, and academic researchers for a three-year project that could dramatically improve in-flight navigation capabilities for space vehicles, military air and sea assets, and commercial vehicles. The project includes researchers from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center; the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Develop ment, and Engineering Center (AMRDEC); and Northwestern University.
Their work is intended to enhance the performance of a vehicle’s inertial guidance system by refining the optical gyroscopes that drive it. These highly sensitive gyroscopes, paired with accelerometers, measure a vehicle’s attitude or orientation based on its angular or rotational momentum in flight, and track its velocity and acceleration to precisely determine its position, flight path, and attitude, or its orientation relative to the direction of travel. Researchers supporting the project say their new optical gyroscopes could be at least 1,000 times more sensitive than current gyroscopes.
For more information, visit www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/news/news/releases/2012/12-111.html.