With world domination well underway, smartphones are
beginning their expansion into space, with the space shuttle Atlantis taking
two iPhone 4’s and a handful of Samsung Nexus S models to assist the astronauts
with their with experiments.
The ‘space-certified’ iPhones are equipped with a special
app called SpaceLab for iOS that will help astronauts conduct four experiments,
called Limb Tracker, Sensor Cal, State Acq and LFI.
The app is also available from the iTunes Store for users on Earth who want to
experience a sense of what the astronauts will be doing, although the
experiments themselves are simulated to account for the presence of gravity.
Meanwhile, the Nexus S models are to be used to boost the
computing power of several experimental remote-controlled robots called SPHERES
(Synchronised Position Hold, Engage, Reorient Experimental Satellites).
These SPHERES are small, CO2-powered orbs which are used by
astronauts to perform routine maintenance. It is hoped the addition of the
Samsung smartphones, providing both a camera and a boost in computing power,
will allow the SPHERES to be operated by remote-control from Earth, allowing astronauts
to focus on more important tasks.
Friday's launch was the last for NASA's thirty-year shuttle programme, with scientists expected to have to rely on private funding for any future explorations.
Image source here.