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scientists have created an underground GPS using muons

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Cosmic rays guard life: scientists have created an underground GPS using muons

Japanese researchers have created a unique navigation system that works underground and can be used to monitor volcanoes and search for victims of natural disasters.

Scientists from the University of Tokyo have developed a new navigation system that uses muons, subatomic particles produced when cosmic rays collide with Earth’s atmosphere. The system can help monitor volcanoes and search for people trapped under the rubble.

Cosmic rays are high-energy particles that come from the Sun, supernovae, and other sources outside of our galaxy. Upon entering the Earth’s atmosphere, they break up into streams of secondary particles, including muons. Muons are similar to electrons, but 207 times heavier and able to penetrate solids. The denser the material, the more muons it absorbs.

The navigation system, called the muometric wireless navigation system (MuWNS), consists of four detectors on the surface and one detector underground. The detectors register the passage of muons and determine the relative position of the underground detector from the time and direction of the particles. High-precision quartz clocks are used to synchronize the detectors.

Scientists conducted an experiment at the University of Tokyo and demonstrated that the system can accurately determine the position of a person who walked through an underground corridor with a detector in his backpack.

The system can be used to monitor changes on the ocean floor or inside volcanoes, as well as to find people trapped under rubble after earthquakes or collapses. In addition, scientists argue that the system can be miniaturized and built into smartphones or other devices.


Further information: Hiroyuki K.M. Tanaka et al., First Indoor and Underground Wireless Muometric Navigation System (MuWNS) Navigation, iScience (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2023.107000 .



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