Simulated GPS will help astronauts map the surface of the moon

When space agencies start undertaking more ambitious projects on the Moon, it'll be important that their astronauts know where they are. Recreating the most reliable global positioning technology we have Earth-side for the Moon's surface is tricky, as our planet's natural satellite doesn't have any satellites of its own to help map it out.

Ron Li, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and geodetic science at Ohio State University, had an idea NASA liked so much they gave him 1.2 million dollars to pursue its development. He's proposed a net of lunar beacons, stereo cameras, and orbital imaging sensors that'll all work together to create a position system much like the one you have in your car or on your computer, though navigating the terrain of the Earth and the Moon are two very different endeavors.

The importance for a mapping system is proven by previous lunar missions, when astronauts would often have to abort or redirect missions because of the Moon's varied, unsteady landscape that not only makes moving around dangerous, but obscures possible dangers caused by the terrain.

Ohio State University Research News, via EurekAlert!