Android Phones to Power Space Satellites

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Want to launch a satellite into space but lack some necessary hardware/software?  There’s an app for that!

Many people are starting to wonder when smartphones will replace PCs.  Space researchers at the University of Surrey and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited are thinking way beyond that.  Later this year, they will launch a satellite into orbit… operated by …. an Android smartphone?!

The project is named STRaND-1 (Surrey Training, Research and Nanosatellite Demonstrator).  They hope to demonstrate that the smart phones of today are capable of powering satellites.  If successful, the cost basis for furthering satellite technology may drop significantly.

“Smartphones pack lots of components – such as sensors, video cameras, GPS systems and Wi-Fi radios – that are technologically advanced but a fraction of the size, weight and cost of components used in existing satellite systems. And because many smartphones also run on free operating systems that lend themselves to online software developers, the creators of applications (‘apps’) for smartphones could feasibly develop apps for satellites,” said StraND-1′s lead researcher Dr Chris Bridges.

The BBC reports the unnamed Android phone will initially be used as a backup for the satellite.  After a period of time, the main computer will be disconnected and the Android device will take over.  The phone will be placed in a space safe casing with openings for the camera lenses.  The phone will send data such as photos back to earth via satellite radio link.

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