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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Outer space glows with a bright fog of X-ray light, coming from everywhere at once. But peer carefully into that fog, and faint, regular blips become visible. These are millisecond pulsars, city-sized neutron stars rotating incredibly quickly, and firing X-rays into the universe with more regularity than even the most precise atomic clocks. And NASA wants to use them to navigate probes and crewed ships through deep space.
With this technology, "You could thread a needle to get into orbit around the moon of a disant planet instead of doing a flyby," Arzoumian told Live Science. A galactic positioning system could also provide "a fallback, so that if a crewed mission loses contact with the Earth, they'd still have navigation systems on board that are autonomous."
April - Apollo - Earth - Disaster - Space
On April 17, 1970, Apollo 13 returned to Earth after narrowly avoiding a deadly disaster in space. This was supposed to be the third mission to land on the moon. Astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise launched on April 11 and were two days into their trip to the moon when an oxygen tank exploded, and NASA had to abort the mission. When the astronauts called mission control to report the incident, Swigert uttered the famous quote, "Houston, we've had a problem." With the service module running out of oxygen, they opted to use the lunar lander as a lifeboat. Because the oxygen was also used to power the spacecraft's fuel cells, they were also running out of power. They shut down all nonessential systems and turned down the heat, and spent four cold, miserable days heading back to Earth. They had to go back into the service module for reentry, and they didn't know if their heat shield had been damaged by the explosion. Luckily they survived reentry and safely...
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