NASA certainly isn’t new to the task of taking images of the earth from space— however, this would be the first time that these images were taken using “PhoneSats,” a new, super-cheap, super-small type of satellite powered by Android smartphones.
Launched into orbit last month with the goal of showing that it is possible to create space-worthy hardware from consumer-grade devices, Alexander, Graham, and Bell (the names of the three satellite devices) returned blurry images before burning up in the atmosphere as planned on April 27th.
Using their stock cameras, the three satellites, built from two HTC Nexus One smartphones and one Samsung Nexus S smartphone, snapped images and transmitted them back to the earth in separate pieces, as packets of data over the UHF radio band.
Surprisingly, the project only cost NASA $3,500 per satellite, including build and launch. The next generation of the PhoneSats are expected to launch later this year, with added functionality and increased longevity.