Android smartphone to control satellite in orbit

February 27, 2013

(Credit: Surrey Satellite Technology)

A satellite with an Android Google Nexus One smartphone at its heart is now orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 785 kilometers.

Called STRaND-1,  the UK’s first cubesat, the satellite’s incorporation of a phone is a bold attempt to test how well cheap, off-the-shelf consumer electronics handle the harsh temperature variations and microchip-blasting cosmic radiation of space, New Scientist reports.

The shoebox-sized satellite includes a Linux-based computer to maintain its orientation by controlling miniature plasma thrusters. But control will, at various points in the mission, be switched to the Android phone’s circuitry to see how its consumer-level electronics copes.

The phone also carries four Android apps written by the winners of a Facebook competition to fly “your app in space”.

No word if the tiny cubesat plans to phone home. — Editor