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Android Hardware Hacking NASA Open Source Space Build Linux

Can Android Revolutionize Spacecraft Design? 110

An anonymous reader writes "NASA's Ames Research Center is working on a new project designed to drastically cut the cost of launching and operating small satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The project, known as PhoneSat, will see the Android powered Nexus One and Nexus S phones command their very own small scale spacecraft this year in a first of its kind research mission."
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Can Android Revolutionize Spacecraft Design?

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  • No. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 25, 2012 @04:38PM (#41124659)


  • Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @04:46PM (#41124709) Journal

    Please, do correct me if I'm wrong; but I was under the impression that the overwhelming majority of the cost of doing space work was in launching the things, with the relatively high salary and R&D costs of building sophisticated precision instruments in very short runs.

    Is the cost of computing anywhere near that significant(especially in situations where you are willing to skip serious rad-hard gear), to the point where you would be better off using a commodity phone(with screen, consumer-pocket-resistant chassis, more GPU than you need for Quake3, etc.) rather than a slightly more expensive, but by no means all that esoteric, ARM SoC board designed for embedded applications? In the same vein, is there an advantage to using an Android environment(whose virtues lie primarily in UI and 3rd party applications) rather than a standard embedded linux or other OS?

  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @04:47PM (#41124717)

    ... will see the Android powered Nexus One and Nexus S phones command their very own small scale spacecraft ...

    For how long? These are consumer devices. The hardware and software are not flight rated and not radiation hardened.

    That said its a really cool hack but hardly something that will radicalize design. Its not like the space program wasn't already on the path of smaller, lighter and less power consuming electronics. Our modern computers and devices are a direct result of space research.

  • by Compaqt ( 1758360 ) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @05:15PM (#41124899) Homepage

    1. They use touchpads in 2001.

    2. They use PADDs in Star Trek.

    3. Apple copies from #1 and #2.

    4. Android is used to build real versions of #1 and #2.

    5. Apple sues #4.

    6. Profit!

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) * on Saturday August 25, 2012 @06:12PM (#41125269)

    Commodity mobile phones aren't safe for flight science systems, end of story, because they're a: not hardened, b: not real time, c: not reliable and d: vulnerable to script kiddy software hacks.

    If all your assertions are true, then explain why is it that this program is being done at NASA’s Ames Research Center where they employ real world class ROCKET SCIENTISTS, rather than kids who play them on slashdot?

    Script kiddies in space? Really? You are going with that?
    Not reliable? Did you even read TFA? Its a coffee cup sized payload, in low earth orbit, expected to re-enter in less than a year. How reliable does it have to be?
    Real Time? Seriously? Its monitoring a sensor package, and radioing it back to earth. It has no thrusters to control. Just how much real time is needed?
    Hardended? In low earth orbit (WAY lower than the ISS) protected by the Van Allen belts. Costing maybe a thousand dollars to construct. Who cares if it takes a direct hit? They are cheap enough to send up two dozen on a single sounding rocket.

    At least READ TFA before pontificating on things you obviously know nothing about.

  • Re:Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @06:39PM (#41125425)

    Still seems like a gimmick. You can drop by an off the shelf electronics supplier and get a processor, gyro and accelerometer for a fraction of the cost of a cell phone. Then put something on it smaller and more reliable than Android.

  • Re:Or are they? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MacDork ( 560499 ) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @08:18PM (#41125909) Journal

    They don't have to buy them in the US. Other markets will still have access to these smartphones. In the US, your choices will be limited by decisions made in kangaroo courts.

    Not that you have much choice in the US anyway. Notice how the rest of the world had quad core phones back in April... Maybe Apple will "invent" quad core phones later this year. I wouldn't hold my breath on it though. They tend to deliver old hardware that's at least a year or two out of date on launch.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.