NASA launched three smartphone satellites into orbit


On Sunday, NASA launched three PhoneSats into orbit. House in a standard "cubesat" structures, a Google-HTC Nexus One serves as the onboard computer and sensor system, taking photos of Earth. Aamateur radio operators are monitoring the transmissions and picking up data packets that will be recombined here on Earth. According to a NASA press release, the use of commercial-of-the-shelf parts, a minimalist design, and limited mission requirements kept the cost of each satellite as low as $3500. PhoneSat: NASA's Smartphone Nanosatellite



    1. The real design process went like this: “Hey, Wallowits, toss me my phone!” “Ok – Whoops!”

    1. Uncertain.  Perhaps phones are built more ruggedly than raspberry pi.  Phones go though drop tests and such that probably (I am purely guessing) reduce the risk that they will fall apart during launch

      Also, phones are generally designed for remarkably low power consumption relative to the computing they deliver.

    2. The phone part of a smart phone is almost the least significant–isn’t it basically a single standard chip, or even just part of a chip? A typical smart phone has accelerometers, a gyroscope, often multiple cameras, a bunch of storage, a reliable and compact power supply and is designed to have low power consumption. And they’re small and light and come in a fairly rugged package.

    1.  Not too many.  There is no air to speak of up there, so objects do not fly, they just fall and miss.

  1. Do they have a way to de-orbit these after end of life? Seems like a bunch of them would be a big hazard one day. 

    1. I think they’ll de-orbit naturally as they’re in low enough orbit that they experience a tiny amount of drag–the ISS would de-orbit without the occasional adjustment to its orbit, for example.

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