Unlike many terrestrial applications that can take advantage of the Global Positioning System (GPS) for positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT), most space-based missions cannot use GPS. Moreover, future space-based missions will likely require multi-platform instruments, such as multi-static radar systems, to share timing. The distributed time synchronization system developed during this effort will prove to be enabling of such missions. Specifically, a novel closed-loop clock phase and clock phase rate adjustment mechanism is proposed that can provide better than 0.5 nanosecond accuracy over a wireless network of instruments. The feasibility of the proposed approach will be investigated using both simulations and hardware experiments using existing hardware. At the conclusion of the effort, a prototype design and associated algorithms will have been developed and evaluated in preparation for fabrication, assembly, testing and demonstration during a follow-on effort.
The Simultaneous Localization and Time Synchronization (SLATS) system is directly relevant to any positioning, navigation, timing and communication (PNT-C) system that must operate under GPS-denied conditions. This includes distributed sensor systems and collaborative manned and unmanned operations, including multi-static and bi-static radar systems.
Potential civilian applications for the SLATS system include emergency responders and search-and-rescue operations. Eventually, the ad-hoc RF ranging algorithms and sensor can be used by smartphones to collaboratively determine their locations in urban and suburban environments when GSP-challenged or denied.