India launches smartphone carrying STRaND-1 spacecraft into space
The world’s first space smartphone has been launched into orbit atop an Indian Space Research Organisation PSLV rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India. The smartphone is a part of the systems aboard the STRaND-1 spacecraft, which will carry out a series of technology demonstrations under the guidance of the Surrey Space Centre’s ground station at the University of Surrey, UK.
STRaND-1 is a training and demonstration mission launched into a 785km Sun-synchronous orbit on ISRO’s PSLV launcher.
Sir Martin added, “This launch is SSC’s first with Isro, and I am looking forward to exploring opportunities for further launches and a wider collaboration on space projects in the future.”
The cube shaped satellite was developed by a team from the University of Surrey’s Surrey Space Centre (SSC) and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL). Dubbed the 3U CubeSat, the satellite is just 10 cm x 30 cm and weighs 4.3kg.
Apart form the the Google Nexus One smartphone, it also has a Linux-based high-speed processor, altitude and orbit control systems, eight pulsed plasma thrusters, and a water-alcohol propulsion system. The first phase will be controlled by the Linux processor, but in the second phase, the smartphone will take control. The main goal of the mission is to demonstrate how many smartphone systems can be readily adapted for satellite applications.
Being a smartphone, it has some apps developed specifically for it to test in space, one of which was through a Facebook competition. Some of the apps are serious, and some are just for fun. The first app is called the iTesa, which records the magnitude of the magnetic field around the phone while in orbit. The data obtained will be used as proof of principle for future studies of Alfven waves (magnetic oscillations in the upper atmosphere).
The STRAND Data app displays satellite telemetry on the smartphone’s screen. Images taken of the display by an on board camera will provide new graphical telemetry to interpret trends.The 360 app utilises images from the smartphone’s camera to establish STRaND-1′s position. These images will be open to the public on request, along with a map showing the position where the images were taken.
The most fun of the lot, the Scream in Space app. It was developed by Cambridge University Space Flight and will make use of the smartphone’s speakers and microphone to test one of the most famous space tropes: “In space, no one can hear you scream.”, made popular by the tagline of the 1979 Ridley Scott film Alien. The app will play videos of the best screams while in orbit and the screams will be recorded using the smartphone’s own microphone, a very fun experiment indeed.
Via: The Economic Times
Salman Ravoof is a freelance writer, a mechanical engineer and an avid science and technology enthusiast. He likes creativity and is a great fan of fantasy and sci-fi genre. When not busy, he revels in experimenting and spends most of his time pondering about the existence of reality.
28 February, 2013