NASA is conducting a new project where they will use unmodified Android Smartphones to built miniature satellites easily and affordably.NASA is going to use commercial-off-the-shelf components, including unmodified, consumer-grade smartphone and modify them into mini satellites.The acknowledged leader in small satellites is University of Surrey’s Surrey Space Centre, which developed STRaND-1, a nanosatellite containing a smartphone payload some years ago.According to NASA smartphones already offer a wealth of capabilities needed for satellite systems, including fast processors, versatile operating systems, multiple miniature sensors, high-resolution cameras, GPS receivers, and several radios.After a few tweaks and modifications these phones would work perfectly as mini satellites.
NASA has already built 3 prototypes of the PhoneSat project and remarkably each of the Mini Satellites costs as low as $3,500 only.Plus they are very easy and quick to built unlike expensive and complicated bigger satellites.
NASA PhoneSat engineers also are changing the way missions are designed by rapidly prototyping and incorporating existing commercial technologies and hardware.Engineers can rapidly upgrade the entire satellite’s capabilities and add new features for each future generation of PhoneSats.
Each NASA PhoneSat nanosatellite is one standard CubeSat unit in size and weighs less than four pounds. A CubeSat is a miniaturized satellite in the shape of a cube that measures approximately 4 inches (10 cm).
NASA is now upgrading and conducting high altitude experiments with the PhoneSats.It is expected that NASA would be able to launch PhoneSats into the orbit by 2013.