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Global Positioning System for Mars?

24.06.2004

A new study examines the factors that would enable researchers to create a Martian version of the Global Positioning System widely used on Earth. Mendillo et al. investigated the planet’s ionospheric characteristics with radio signal data taken from the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft and analyzed how local time, latitude, and solar cycle patterns would affect Mars’ electron content and contribute to errors in estimating exact locations on the planet’s surface.

They note that, as seen on Earth, a planet’s ionosphere imparts a delay on radio transmissions between an orbiting satellite and ground receiving stations that can hinder precise location of ground sites. The magnitude of the delay effect on Mars would depend on the radio frequency selected for its satellite navigation system, or it could be overcome by using a dual-frequency system.

The authors suggest that a constellation of GPS-like satellites could be introduced to improve navigation and provide continual monitoring of Martian features and locations with an expected margin of error of around one meter [three feet].

Title: Ionospheric effects upon a satellite navigations system at Mars

Michael Mendillo | Radio Science
Further information:
http://www.agu.org

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