British engineers have announced they plan to send a Google Android touting mobile handset into space in order to determine the limitations of such devices.
The team from Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) in Guildford have declared they intend to use the Android handset to operate a 30cm satellite they are sending up into space later this year to take aerial pictures of the Earth.
Whilst it has yet to be announced exactly what model handset will be taking this out of this world journey, the SSTL Project Manager of mission STRaND-1, Shaun Kenyon, announced “Modern smartphones are pretty amazing.”
"They come now with processors that can go up to 1GHz, and they have loads of flash memory. First of all, we want to see if the phone works up there, and if it does, we want to see if the phone can control a satellite," Kenyon added.
Whilst mobile devices have been sent to awe-inspiring heights adjoined to high altitude balloons in the past, such as the Google Nexus S which was sent 18km up last year, this latest mission marks the first occasion in which a smartphone will be sent into orbit hundreds of kilometres above terra firma.
Attempting to show off-the-shelf electronics can be used to drastically cut the expenditure of space exploration missions, STRaND-1 will use a single sub-£300 device to control and photograph the operation. Speaking on the simplicity of the task Kenyon stated: "We’re not taking it apart; we’re not gutting it; we’re not taking out the printed circuit boards and re-soldering them into our satellite – we’re flying it as is.”
Posted by Luke Johnson