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Mobile Phones in Space

Google sent some of its Nexus smartphones on balloons 18km high in the sky in 2010.

This year, British engineers are hoping to send a mobile phone into space.

A firm called Surrey Satellite Technology Limited have a team of engineers, who are trying to see if smartphones will be able to function in the vacuum of space. The Guildford team are planning on sending a phone running Google's Andriod into space later this year, hoping it will be able to control a small satellite and take pictures of the earth.
Open QuoteSmartphones pack lots of components – such as sensors, video cameras, GPS systems and Wi-Fi radios – that are technologically advanced but a fraction of the size, weight and cost of components used in existing satellite systems.Close Quote
Source: Dr Chris Bridges - Surrey Satellite Technology Limited lead researcher
The Google Android Logo So, why send up a mobile phone? They say that today's mobile phones are more powerful than Apollo 11's, which is part of the reason. The complexity and capability of modern phones, matched with the fact that they are incredibly light weight makes them prefect for use in outer space - so long as they still work.

This is because it costs a fortune to send stuff into space, due to the enormous fuel costs. If this can be reduced by using lighter technology (like mobile phones) then we are more likely to send more stuff into space, more frequently, due to the reduced fuel costs.

The capability of mobile phones has really advanced in the last few years, with phones now being able to measure the magnetic field, tell which way is up, take fantastic quality pictures (for the size of the camera) etc.

Surrey Satellite Technology Limited have chosen to use Android as it is open source software, in a similar sort of way to Firefox in that everyone can 'edit'. This will mean that the engineers can modify and adapt it to make it suitable for the tasks it will need to perform in outer space.

Open QuoteChanging the economics of spaceClose Quote
Source: Surrey Satellite Technology Limited Website
 In the last decade, we have seen more and more people becoming interested in space exploration, as it becomes cheaper and easier to send things into space. This news is likely to fuel yet more people and businesses to investigate space for themselves.

Surrey Satellite Technology Limited is part of a global trend. Expect more, cheaper space exploration in the future. When Barack Obama said that 'it should be possible' to send astronauts to orbit Mars by the mid 2030's, many people were sceptical, now however there is much greater likelihood that this could actually be achieved!

Links: A New Generation of Touch Screen Phones - Mini Supercomputers of the Future

Posted By: Christopher (Admin)
Date posted: 24th January 2011

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