NASA’s Nexus S powered PhoneSat satellite has phoned home for the first time since its launch on November 19th. The PhoneSat 2.4 is a continuation of NASA’s PhoneSat program, which couples off the shelf smartphones with satellite technology. The PhoneSat 2.4 sports a cube like shape and weighs in at 2.2 pounds.
NASA is using the Google Nexus S as the brain for its PhoneSat satellites which are perfect candidates for use in low-orbit satellites thanks to the array of sensors and advanced electronics packed into modern smartphones. Google’s Android OS is easy for NASA to develop software for, due to Android’s open source nature. The Nexus S is considered an old device at this point, debuting 3 years ago, but NASA points out that the smartphone still has more than 100 times the power of most satellites in orbit today.
“It’s great to hear from NASA’s most recent cubesat spacecraft. NASA is committed to opening up the high frontier to a new generation of explorers who can take advantage of these sorts of small satellites to do science and technology development at a fraction of the cost of larger, more complex spacecraft.” – Michael Gazarik, NASA’s associate administrator for space technology in Washington
NASA’s PhoneSat program made headlines last year, when the world first heard of the project. In April, NASA launched PhoneSat 1.0, which successfully completed a one week mission into low-earth orbit. On November 19th, NASA launched 11 PhoneSat 2.4 satellites into low-earth orbit, on a mission to test the functionality of commercial electronic components in space. The mission will also test out a system which controls the cubesat’s orientation in space. NASA has packed a two-way S-band radio into the PhoneSat 2.4, which will allow anyone operating a radio with a frequency of 437.425MHz to chat with the device. The PhoneSat 2.4 devices are expected to stay in orbit for a year.