Deep space tracking and navigation are done in a quasi-inertial reference frame based upon the angular positions of distant active galactic nuclei (AGN). These objects, which are found at extreme distances characterized by median redshifts of z = 1, are ideal for reference frame definition because they exhibit no measurable parallax or proper motion. They are thought to be powered by super massive black holes whose gravitational energy drives galactic sized relativistic jets. These jets produce synchrotron emissions which are detectable by modern radio techniques such as Very Long baseline Interferometry (VLBI).
Space Communications, Spacecraft Communications, Command and Tracking
International Symposium on Space Flight Dynamics; 29 Oct. - 2 Nov. 2012; Pasadena, CA; United States