NASA launched Orbital Science Corp.’s Antares rocket on Sunday to send a crew and cargo to the International Space Station. But in what is a one of a kind experiment, NASA also sent three Nexus One smartphones to the orbit to see if they could function as low-cost satellites. Also Read - NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter uses same chip as Samsung Galaxy S5, OnePlus One
According to the NASA blog, the three smartphones or ‘PhoneSats’ as they are termed by the space administration, have been slightly customized and equipped with a powerful external lithium-ion battery and satellite components like GPS, high-resolution cameras, radio and multiple sensors among others . The phones not surprisingly are unable to send or receive calls from the orbit. Also Read - NASA Perseverance Mars rover uses 1998 iMac processor with just one upgrade
“Smartphones offer a wealth of potential capabilities for flying small, low-cost, powerful satellites for atmospheric or Earth science, communications, or other space-born applications,” NASA Associate Administrator for Space Technology in Washington Michael Gazarik said in a statement. “They also may open space to a whole new generation of commercial, academic and citizen-space users.”
The PhoneSats have been tasked to take pictures of the Earth and relay information about their operational health and according to the space administration, have been transmitting quite a bit of data to multiple ground stations on Earth which is a sign that they are working perfectly. NASA plans to keep the smartphones in the orbit for a further two weeks and monitor if the smartphones can survive the hazards of space.