A team of engineers at SSTL and the Surrey Space Centre in Guildford want to see if the sophisticated capabilities in today’s mobile phones can function in the most challenging environment of all: space.
Why are they doing this you might be asking? Shaun Kenyon, the project manager at SSTL, said, “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.”
Although the specific phone model to be used hasn’t been announced yet, SSTL wants to use the phone to control a 30cm-long satellite and take pictures of the Earth in the mission later this year. If this works, it could potentially save tons of money and weight for future similar projects in space.
The team chose Android because of its open source software, which means they can tweak it if need be.
“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,” Kenyon explained. “And, in fact, we’re going to have another camera on the satellite so we can take a picture of the phone because we want to operate the screen and have some good images of that as well.”
All I know is I can’t wait to see pictures of this Android smartphone in space! What device do you think they’ll choose? Let us know in the comments.