British space scientists are gearing up to launch the world’s first satellite run entirely using a mobile phone.
The unique STRaND-1 satellite, developed by researchers from the University of Surrey, will be fully controlled by a Google Nexus phone during part of its six-month space mission.
It will launch into a 785km sun-synchronous orbit on the Indian Space Research Organisation’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from Sriharikota, India, on February 25.
The satellite’s launch will be an interesting test of the oft-repeated claim that the mobile phone in your pocket has more computing power than was used to send a man to the Moon.
At the heart of STRaND-1 is an unmodified Nexus One smartphone running an Android operating system, according to Dr Chris Bridges, the Surrey Space Centre’s lead engineer on the venture.
‘We haven’t gutted the Nexus. We’ve done lots and lots of tests on it; we’ve put our own software on it. But we’ve essentially got a regular phone, connected up the USB to it and put it in the satellite,’ he told the BBC.
The smartphone is pressed up against a side panel of the 30cm-long, 4.3kg cubesat, so that it’s 5MP camera can look out and take pictures of the Earth and the Moon.
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