Thursday, February 28, 2013

The first smart-phone equipped satellite is in orbit!

Space.com reports that the University of Surrey's Surrey Space Centre (SSC) and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) launched the first smartphone-powered satellite into orbit on February 25th. The tiny STRaND-1 picosat, which includes a Google Nexus One Android phone, is packed with other cool stuff: The WARP DRiVE (Water Alcohol Resistojet Propulsion Deorbit Re-entry Velocity Experiment), electric plasma thrusters, and 3-D printed parts. The Nexus phone is somewhat of a curiosity since the satellite includes a high speed Linux processor and dedicated RF downlink. (Space.com provides a quote from UK Space Agency officials, "We'd hate to pick up the bill on those roaming charges.") Still, the use a smart phone is an interesting proof-of-concept and the phone allows the use of apps. The STRaND-1 runs several interesting apps, including a Scream in Space app that will determine if the the phones microphone can detect sound from it's speakers. This is a fun thing to do but we all know that, if sound is registered, it's because it was directly coupled though the phone itself. Right? You can find out how that is going below.