A team of scientists from the University of Surrey, UK, are excitedly putting the finishing touches to their latest satellite, called STRaND-1. Due to launch on February 25th, the hi-tech beast is powered by... a Google Nexus One?
The satellite, which measures 30cm in length and weighs just 4.5kg, will be launched into a 785km sun-synchronous orbit from India. It's really a testing ground, which might explain why it's powered by a now-defunct smartphone. Dr Chris Bridges, the lead engineer on the project, explains to IET:
"A smartphone on a satellite like this has never been launched before but our tests have been pretty thorough, subjecting the phone to oven and freezer temperatures, to a vacuum and blasting it with radiation. It has a good chance of working as it should, but you can never make true design evolutions or foster innovation without taking a few risks: STRaND is cool because it allows us to do just that."
In reality, of course, space technology usually lags behind its Earth-bound counterpart in terms of computational crunch, because it's important that the devices are solid and reliable. In fact, the STRaND-1 will use a series of apps loaded onto the phone to collect data, and the phone will at some point control the majority of the satellite's functions. But could they not at least have upgraded to a Nexus 4? [IET]