Did you know that celestial navigation is back?
Until NPR covered it last week, I didn’t actually know it was gone. For those of you that would proudly classify yourselves as “landlubbers”, you might only think about celestial navigation when you watch a historical movie with mariners of the olden days and so may not have realized that it was a mandatory navigation skill for sailors. As a Coast Guard Academy Cadet and then a Deck Watch Officer in the 80s, celestial navigation was ever present for me as I struggled to learn it at the Academy and then used it regularly while standing watch on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Diligence.
I find the idea of the “return” of celestial navigation fascinating for a number of reasons and none of them are nostalgic. On the Cutter Diligence, we used celestial nav to verify that our electronic systems like Loran and the newer GPS network were guiding us correctly. And, most importantly, if we were to lose our electronic nav sources, we would be prepared to use celestial nav in an emergency situation.
According to the NPR article, the Navy began phasing out the teaching of celestial nav at the U.S. Naval Academy about 15 years ago to allow for more focus on the new extremely capable electronic navigation systems, primarily based on GPS. During that same period, we’ve all become very dependent on GPS – we use it for navigating to the store, on vacation or to get around Washington, DC traffic – GPS has changed how we live our daily lives.
But what if it didn’t work? For military users, loss of GPS could be life threatening and, so bringing back celestial nav is part of the military preparing for situations where GPS could get disabled or jammed by our enemies. On the battlefield, technology like that provided by TRX Systems for indoor and underground environments (where GPS has never worked) and for outdoor environments where GPS is jammed, will provide another part of the solution for the military in “GPS-denied” environments.
And that GPS-denied (or "indoor location") technology is now moving into the commercial industrial and consumer applications that will impact how we live our daily lives. The sensors that the TRX NEON® software uses to accurately locate people inside buildings, underground and in areas where GPS might be intentionally jammed - magnetic, accelerometer, gyroscope, light, pressure, RF, etc. - are already in the latest cellular devices and are now being embedded within radios and industrial devices.
To learn more about TRX technology or NEON Personnel Tracker visit us at www.trxsystems.com.