Available Technology

Deep space positioning system

A single, compact, lower power deep space positioning system (DPS) configured to determine a location of a spacecraft anywhere in the solar system, and provide state information relative to Earth, Sun, or any remote object. For example, the DPS includes a first camera and, possibly, a second camera configured to capture a plurality of navigation images to determine a state of a spacecraft in a solar system. The second camera is located behind, or adjacent to, a secondary reflector of a first camera in a body of a telescope.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has developed a compact, low-power, self-contained instrument that provides the equivalent of GPS throughout the solar system without the aid of artificially provided infrastructure. The state-of-the-art X-ray navigation instrument is also able to determine the position of a spacecraft anywhere in the solar system, but it cannot provide this information relative to the Earth, the sun, or any other remote target body (i.e., the equivalent of GPS providing a user's position relative to a vehicle, a second user, or any other moving target). JPL's uniquely capable deep-space positioning system determines the position and the target-relative position of a spacecraft anywhere in the solar system using optical navigation, which makes it ideally suited for any spacecraft requiring deep-space navigation services.

DPS provides both deep-space navigation and target-relative navigation without the aid of artificially provided infrastructure


Deep-space navigation instruments

Asteroid reconnaissance and mineral prospecting missions

Human missions to Mars


Andrew T. Vaughan, Joseph E. Riedel

Patent Number: 
Internal Laboratory Ref #: 
Patent Status: 
Patent Issue Date: 
August 5, 2016
Far West
Lab Representatives
Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Google Plus Share to Linkedin