(GPSWorld) Researchers at Lockheed Martin have found a novel way to augment GPS from a newly developed technology involving a quantum magnetometer. The researchers call their technique Dark Ice; it uses magnetic sensing as an alternative means of determining location without use of satellite signals.
Mike DiMario and his team have developed a prototype magnetometer that uses a synthetic diamond the size of a salt crystal to measure the direction and strength of nearly imperceptible magnetic field anomalies. They overlay that data with maps of Earth’s magnetic field, supplied by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, to produce precise location information.
Dark Ice differs from current magnetic sensors aboard ships and planes in that it can measure both the field strength and the direction the field is pointing. “The real advantage of this quantum-based technology is its ability to produce a true magnetic field vector, while at the same time having a very large dynamic range and bandwidth,” team leader Mike DiMario explained.
With its powerful sensing capabilities and small size, Dark Ice could function as the most reliable way to do things like identify hard-to-find watercraft in search-and-rescue missions and fly aboard aircraft in the battlefield. Navigation, search and communications — all in one compact sensor.