The British-built STRaND-1 will use the commercially available smartphone camera to take pictures of the Earth and the Moon.
Researchers at the University of Surrey’s Surrey Space Centre (SSC) and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) in the UK have developed the STRaND-1 (Surrey Training, Research and Nanosatellite Demonstrator). This nanosatellite will be controlled by an everyday, unmodified Nexus one phone and will soon be launched into orbit around the Earth.
BBC News reports that the satellite will complete a six-month mission, with the Nexus One pressed against a side panel to allow its 5-megapixel camera to take pictures of the Earth and the Moon. The STRaND-1 was sent to India this week for a rocket launch that is due to take place at the end of the month.
The researchers’ aim was to demonstrate the capabilities of a satellite built quickly using commercial off-the-shelf components. STRaND-1’s lead researcher Dr Chris Bridges said:
Smartphones 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. And because many smartphones also run on free operating systems that lend themselves to online software developers, the creators of applications for smartphones could feasibly develop apps for satellites. If a smartphone can be proved to work in space, it opens up lots of new technologies to a multitude of people and companies for space who usually can’t afford it. It’s a real game-changer for the industry.
You can learn more about the STRaND-1 in the video below: