A team at NASA’s Ames research center in California is working on the launch of miniature satellites constructed with Nexus smartphones. The project titled Phonesat is a part of Small Spacecraft Technology Program which aims at incorporating small consumer electronics products into nano satellites. According to NASA, the team working behind the program has developed two nano satellite prototype models- Phonesat 1.0 and Phonesat 2.0.
The first model Phonesat 1.0 will integrate a Nexus One along with external batteries and a radio beacon. A watch dog circuit is integrated into the system to monitor the functioning of the system and reboot the Nexus phone if necessary. The device will have minimal functionalities and mainly will be used as a test run for checking whether the nanosatellite is able to send operational health data while in space.
The whole system will be enclosed in a 10X10x10 cm Cubesat shell almost the size of a coffee cup. The unit will weigh approximately 4 pounds. Phonesat 2.0 will be an advance model compared to Phonesat 1.0 and will feature a Nexus S smartphone. The design of the satellite will incorporate a two way S band radio along with a GPS receiver and solar arrays.
The solar panels have been included to extend the life of the unit in space. The S band radio will be used to control the unit from the ground. Magnetorquer coils which are electromagnets that interact with the magnetic field of the earth are incorporated in the Phonesat 2.0 unit along with reaction wheels which will facilitate controlling of the unit’s orientation in space.
According to NASA, two Phonesat 1.0 units and one Phonesat 2.0 unit will be launched into space on Orbit Sciences Corporation’s Antares rocket by later part of this year.