To demonstrate the navigation technology's viability, the NICER/SEXTANT payload will use its telescopes to detect X-ray photons within these powerful beams of light to estimate the arrival times of their pulses. With these measurements, the system will use specially developed algorithms to stitch together an on-board navigation solution.
"We're excited about NICER/SEXTANT's possibilities," Gendreau added. "The experiment meets critical science objectives and is a stepping-stone for technology applications that meet a variety of NASA needs. It's rare that you get an opportunity to do a cross-cutting experiment like this."