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phonesat

NASA has managed to create a fully functional super cheap tiny satellite made out of off-the-shelf Android hardware. NASA has named it “PhoneSat”. It has managed to dial home from orbit, meaning all systems are working.

IT COST THE SPACE AGENCY JUST $7,500

PhoneSat 2.4, a cube approximately four inches square, weighs only about 2.2 pounds, and was developed at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. PhoneSat uses a Nexus S smartphone made by Samsung Electronics running Google’s Android operating system. Using two-way S-band radio, it enables engineers to command it remotely. It’s part of NASA’s effort to explore cheaper satellite technology.

“The smartphone provides many of the functions the satellite needs to operate, such as computation, memory, ready-made interfaces for communications, navigation and power, all assembled in a rugged package before launch,” says NASA.

The tiny satellite PhoneSat 2.4 was launched two weeks ago. It will test a system for changing the satellite’s orientation in space as well as measure how well off-the-shelf components perform over the course of a year.

It is part of NASA’s next Small Spacecraft Technology mission, the Edison Demonstration of Smallsat Networks (EDSN). This mission is composed of eight identical PhoneSats that will be deployed during a launch from Kauai, Hawaii in 2014.

“This mission will demonstrate the concept of using many small spacecraft in a coordinated cluster to study the space environment and space-to-space communications techniques. During EDSN, each cubesat will make science measurements and transmit the data to the others while any one of them can then transmit all of the collected data to a ground station. This versatility in command and control could make possible large swarms of satellites to affordably monitor Earth’s climate, space weather and other global-scale phenomena.” – NASA

The first batch of PhoneSats launched in April and the next version is scheduled for February.

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urthecast

Recently a couple of high-definition cameras have been delivered to the International Space Station thanks to Urthecast.  So ISS will soon start broadcasting near-live images of Earth for free. According to Urthecast, the magnification will be so high that you will be able to see vehicles and crowds.

Urthecast is a Canadian company that plans to start its free broadcast in early 2014. The cameras can see everything from 51 degrees north to 51 degrees south. It means Alaska, Scandinavia, and most of the UK won’t be featured. Everyone else will be able to see their neighborhood at surprisingly high resolution. The ISS orbits the Earth 19 times a day that’s why the feed is described as “near live” on the website with a delay of around 45 minutes to two hours before the images show up on your screen.

Virtually travel to your favorite places, plan events around an ISS pass-over, or watch how places change over time.

The still camera can see up to a resolution of five meters per pixel. At such resolution the cameras will be able to generate images that are 40 km wide. The video camera can see much more clearly at an ultra-crisp 4K resolution. At such insane resolution Urthecast expects to download 200GB of pictures and videos from the ISS every day.

The feed is free on Urthecast’s website. You just need to request for an invite. A separate premium service is also available for businesses intelligence, monitoring assets and real time monitoring of strategic locations.

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At present, Nexus 4 may not have all the gimmicks other flagship phones have - 1080p screen, High resolution camera, smart pen etc, but...