Engineers at NASA”s Marshall Space Flight Center have developed a machine-to-machine (M2M) network navigation protocol to enable spacecraft to perform autonomous navigation and positioning even in the most challenging of environments. Designed to facilitate deep space communication between spacecraft without the need for ground system support, this enhancement of on-board navigation capabilities allows assets to operate accurately in GPS-denied areas, determine position fixes relative to other assets, and minimize reliance on operator intervention. Additionally, implementation of the network architecture may be as simple as a software update, with no requirement of extensive designated hardware. Through providing these benefits, the NASA technology could improve the operational capabilities of aircraft navigation systems; advance autonomy, coordination, and safety features in unmanned aerial vehicles; and serve as a substitute or supplement for GPS positioning.
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