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PNT in Space

PNSIG Board Member Dr. Alberto Montilla has recently written an article entitled “Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) in space”. It’s available at:

Alberto explains the basics of PNT and explains how the GPS and other PNT systems provide this service to devices like your cell phone on the earth’s surface. On the moon, PNT becomes even more critical than on earth. The lack of recognizable landmarks can make even short distance navigation hazardous (ask the Apollo 14 astronauts who almost got lost during their EVA).

So NASA intends to provide PNT services as part of its LunaNet deployment on the moon. In order to leverage existing infrastructure and overcome technical challenges in extending PNT services to the moon, NASA and other agencies have been working to extend this range by taking advantage of a radiation pattern effect: the side lobe coverage.

Beyond that, NASA has been working on ways to provide PNT services to spacecraft in deep space. This required the development of highly miniaturized atomic clocks which could be launched into space.

For more details on this fascinating topic, read Alberto’s article.


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