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    Re: New inovation in astro navigation?
    From: Richard Reed
    Date: 2010 Aug 2, 12:58 -0700

    Here's a setup for deep space navigation that uses expensive digital cameras mounted on a kind of acceleration-sensitive yoke for attitude measurement. A gross angle is measured by the yoke, and the fine precision by DSLR's with big telephoto lenses.

    http://www.psatellite.com/research/dsnav.php

    My opinion of 'electro-trickery' begins with immense respect for the recognition of the significance of double-reflection geometry and the progressive refinement of the precision available to hand in the sea environment. Also, if sextants were wonderful for this, what can you say about chronometers? It doesn't do to call them 'mechano-trickery', because for all the elegance of lunars, our failure to have a better natural clock than the Moon made mechanical timekeepers _necessary_. I guess trade would have progressed with all the shipwrecks anyway, but probably much more slowly.

    I forgive 'electro-trickery' for a lot of things. Do we need air transports? Forget all the fly-by-wire and flight management computers or even jet engines. To land an airplane when birds prefer to walk, you need eyes so much better than a bird that your lousy reflexes don't matter, and you have to see through clouds and fog -- electro-trickery in spades. A simpler example is ocean navigation in bad weather. The ocean approach to the English Channel from the south is fairly nasty in winter and full of ships. Best to have something better than light to steer or avoid others by.

    I'm still fascinated by the elegant beauty of CN, and apologise if I abuse the spirit of the list. I just think a lot of modern complications have their places.

    Richard

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