The Navy is researching a new technology that could help sailors and Marines navigate in places where the Global Positioning System just doesn’t work.
Unlike GPS signals, cosmic ray muons are a natural source of radiation that can pass through rock, buildings and earth and can be used at high latitudes north of the Arctic Circle, where GPS satellites do not work well due to their orbital constraints, the Office of Naval Research wrote in a press release on Tuesday.
“Cosmic-ray muons (or atmospheric muons) are ubiquitous and universal,” researchers wrote in a study of muons published in the journal Nature in 2020. “[B]y utilizing this universality and relativistic nature, cosmic muons have a potential to be used for positioning the receiver detector located underwater or underground three dimensionally with a great accuracy.”
That Nature Scientific Reports article (Tanaka, Hiroyuki K. M. 2020) Muometric positioning system (μPS) with cosmic muons as a new underwater and underground positioning technique is pretty challenging to read.
Several cosmic ray muons are produced in an air shower, each produced by a single very high energy cosmic ray proton or heavier nucleus.
But they come randomly, and the showers are fairly well localized. So I'd like to ask:
Question: How can cosmic ray muons be used to replace GPS for positioning information in 3D on Earth?