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Android ISS Cellphones NASA Robotics Space Hardware

Nexus S To Serve As Brain For 3 Robots Aboard the ISS 82

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-bid-twenty-quatloos-that-they're-all-untrainable dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Given the NFC capabilities in Nexus S, NASA researchers are about to deploy them on the International Space Station. Two Nexus S phones will be installed in robotic floating orbs called Spheres (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites). They will be performing a variety of everyday tasks like taking inventory and inspecting equipment, which will free up the human crew members for other duties. Currently the Spheres are in testing mode, as the video shows, but are expected to be up and running by the end of the year."
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Nexus S To Serve As Brain For 3 Robots Aboard the ISS

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  • by Osgeld (1900440) on Friday July 08, 2011 @03:11PM (#36699154)

    But I thought we were still using Intel 80386SX chips in NASA cause apparently radiation hardening takes decades, but yet a consumer grade phone is fine?

    either someone is full of shit on the radiation hardening, or that's one fucking amazing phone!

    • I think radiation hardening is available free from Amazon Appstore today.
    • The Spheres will be operating strictly within the crew area, I'm sure a phone can handle more radiation than an astronaut can.
      • The Spheres will be operating strictly within the crew area, I'm sure a phone can handle more radiation than an astronaut can.

        Right. Because the type of radiation that could bump a register is not likely to even register a bump in a person. Maybe you should learn *why* radiation hardening is important. Hint: It's not because of cancer.

    • But I thought we were still using Intel 80386SX chips in NASA cause apparently radiation hardening takes decades, but yet a consumer grade phone is fine?

      The jury is still out but the devices are being looked at for non-critical tasks - the shuttle mission that just went up includes two iPhones that have been certified to go into space, and will be tested there to see how they hold out against the radiation:

      http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/06/iphone-space-shuttle/ [wired.com]

      Since components are similar across man

      • by arisvega (1414195)

        I'm sure if the iPhone can hold out the Android devices will be OK too

        So you are saying that the worst Android device is still better than the best iPhone.

        • no, he is saying that all consumer grade electronic gadgets probably have the same level of radiation resistance, regardless of build quality, software, etc.

      • by rvw (755107) on Friday July 08, 2011 @04:00PM (#36699618)

        But I thought we were still using Intel 80386SX chips in NASA cause apparently radiation hardening takes decades, but yet a consumer grade phone is fine?

        The jury is still out but the devices are being looked at for non-critical tasks - the shuttle mission that just went up includes two iPhones that have been certified to go into space, and will be tested there to see how they hold out against the radiation:

        http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/06/iphone-space-shuttle/ [wired.com]

        I bet this is all part of some secret agreement over the use of the i in iSS.

      • by Osgeld (1900440)

        Oh my bad I thought jobs hand drafted the A4 (or whatever) using the blood of Jesus on the back of the dead sea scrolls ... least that's the way the sales pitch I heard yesterday at bestbuy made it seem ...

        I am a bit disappointed

    • I assume these are add-ons to the usual processor and OS. I would be surprised if NASA would trust Android and Nexus for critical applications.
    • by Tynin (634655)
      It could be that these are simply prototypes and if the concept works out they then bother to spend the extra cash for something that is radiation hardened. Seems like it would be a much cheaper approach to take.
    • by usul294 (1163169)
      Seeing as they aren't mission-critical, and just an experiment, they don't need to be rad-hard. If one of these guys fail, its not the a big deal. The life-support system computer needs to be hardened, on the other hand.
    • by erice (13380) on Friday July 08, 2011 @04:36PM (#36699944) Homepage

      ISS is in low Earth orbit, below the Van Alan belts. The radiation environment isn't that severe. A study performed in the early 90's found that off the shelf electronics were fine for LEO. For geosync and higher orbits, minor shielding was needed to achieve reliable operation.

      http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=6&sqi=2&ved=0CE4QFjAF&url=http%3A%2F%2Frsta.royalsocietypublishing.org%2Fcontent%2F361%2F1802%2F193.full.pdf&rct=j&q=low%20earth%20orbit%20radiation%20environment&ei=BmgXTrarKIa0sAPB3s3uDQ&usg=AFQjCNHCt82GlFwEYW4z90dov1umXWOh_Q&sig2=O5-vlK7lpRbKEBSzrgSSsw&cad=rja [google.com]

      • by rumith (983060)
        First, ISS regularly passes through the South Atlantic Anomaly (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Atlantic_Anomaly), which can be described as the location when the van Allen belts are much closer to the Earth's surface due to the configuration of the geomagnetic field (the "shift" of the magnetic dipole). Second, whenever there is an solar extreme event like a powerful coronal mass ejection or a solar flare, it is usually accompanied by high-energy protons that are capable of penetrating most of the magne
      • Clearly the robots are laying the groundwork for the Robot Revolution as we speak. They'll just let the radiation kill all the humans on board while the floating robospheres of death laugh mechanically at all the photons that pass harmlessly through them. One shudders to think what the robospheres could do with a space station and several human corpses in low Earth orbit!
    • either someone is full of shit on the radiation hardening, or that's one fucking amazing phone!

      To quote a line from a pretty well known movie: There is.... another [possibility that you have overlooked]. Life is rarely black and white and often you look wiser by asking a question rather than making a blanket statement of facts when you lack all relevant information.

      These are prototypes and are not used in a mission critical application. Thus they don't need radiation hardened chips and their cost

    • by gad_zuki! (70830)

      They take regular laptops into space every trip. The hardening is for critical systems like flight, life support, etc. If a laptop or phone dies, nothing happens.

    • Steve Jobs... is that you?
    • But I thought we were still using Intel 80386SX chips in NASA cause apparently radiation hardening takes decades, but yet a consumer grade phone is fine?

      either someone is full of shit on the radiation hardening, or that's one fucking amazing phone!

      An iPhone is also going to ISS. According to NASA, "[the iPhone] will be housed inside a small research platform built by NanoRacks," (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/behindscenes/whatsgoingup135.html) so presumably the Nexus phones are, too.

    • The robots aren't doing anything important. The 386 chips are probably in something a little more critical than a floating robot inventory-taker.
    • thinkpads have been used in the space shuttle for years, iirc. they didn't need to be hardened or anything. phones should be fine, too.

    • by arisvega (1414195)

      either someone is full of shit on the radiation hardening, or that's one fucking amazing phone!

      A phone/laptop that is already in the ISS / shuttle, is already enjoying the same radiation protection privileges that the crew enjoys - take that device to real space, and then you are going to need some hardcore radiation hardening (like the one space drones and landers employ)

  • But I wonder if they are modified in any way. I would have thought that electronics that go into space had to be radiation-hardened and be produced with components that are more reliable / have tighter specs than what are used in consumer devices. Cool idea, though.
    • phones will be installed in robotic floating orbs called Spheres

    • You only need to rad-harden critical systems. The SPHERES are one step up from toys as far as the actual operation of the station goes. If their OS crashes, you reboot, no big deal.
    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      But I wonder if they are modified in any way. I would have thought that electronics that go into space had to be radiation-hardened and be produced with components that are more reliable / have tighter specs than what are used in consumer devices. Cool idea, though.

      Well, they have to be verified and potentially dangerous components removed and replaced with less dangerous ones. I think, for example, the batteries are swapped out with ones that may not spontaneously catch fire. There was an article a few yea

  • Now that lawsuit brought against Google for use of the name Nexus doesn't seem so frivolous.
    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2010-01/07/content_12772459.htm

  • He wants his lightsaber practice sphere back.

  • Aww, they even come in different colors like the eyebots in Portal. And that is a lot of piercings on their lead dev.

    • Or like the floating torture-droids Vader used on Lea in Episode IV.
      • by neBelcnU (663059)
        I don't mean to thread-jack, but the Empire strongly objects to your characterization of our "Truth Facilitation and Subjects' Rights Preservation" droids. They've been deployed to insure fair treatment and accurate recording of consensual testimony, preventing the excesses of law enforcement before the Empire, and ensuring the voice of the accused is heard. To refer to these sophisticated and sensitive instruments by a catchy epithet is counter-productive, citizen, and against the goals we all share towa
    • by EdZ (755139)
      For use as personal assistants in space, I was thinking Haro. Unfortunately, none of them are green.
  • Does this mean that cell phones are now safe enough to use on commercial aircraft?

  • I couldn't resist
  • Less "sphere", more "d20". Roll Profession (astronaut).
  • It would be pretty great if the next line of Nexus phones were called Nexus 6 and then the ISS could update its robots brains to that too.
  • or, in this case a phone without a phone number.

  • When the spheres aren't busy, the crew can pull the phones out to play Angry Birds.

  • That should be SPHERESs then.

  • Shouldn't it be SPHERES ? I'm not going to require you to write S.P.H.E.R.E.S. , but at least use all-caps so I can tell which one you're referring to. The word "sphere" is already taken. :P Hate to be a grammar nazi but this is pretty basic stuff, actually affects how it reads...
  • companion cubes for astronauts?

  • Oh my goodness. Shut me down! Androids controlling Robots. Hmm. How perverse.

  • Well, they like acronyms, and the robots are kind of spherical. I have to call this one a little fake though; it seems like they WANTED to name them 'spheres', and put whatever words to get them there- as opposed to some clever moments of the past involving acronyms that where keeping it real.

    Incidently, who cares; there is no more Space Shuttle.

  • by cstacy (534252) on Friday July 08, 2011 @04:06PM (#36699690)

    I just do eyes...

  • Nexus-class androids are cleared for off-world use. They're only banned on Earth.
  • It starts with a guy not being able to name what the acronym stands for and then shows the lead scientist who seems to be a facial piercings enthusiast.

  • As a big Silent Running fan I'm happy to know Huey, Dewey and Louie are a reality.
  • Sounds quite a bit like a Keno from SGU.

  • Can you hear me now?

  • Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites -> SPHERE

    NASA - To boldly backronym where no sane human being has ever dared to backronym before.

    Makes me cringe, laugh and stand in bedazzled amazement, all at the same time.

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