A British team of volunteer engineers are working to make mobile phone components the newest development in space exploration and create a new generation of micro-satellites. Called Strand-1, the team is currently placing a mobile phone at the heart of an 11-inch satellite. “…apps will exploit the phone’s inbuilt magnetometer – used for its compass – to measure the magnetic field around the satellite. It will even use the wi-fi capability.” If a wireless intra-satellite link can be established, the weight of future satellites, which use sizable cables to make an Internet connection, can be reduced.
What’s the Big Idea?
Today’s mobile phones contain the computing power of supercomputers built in the 1970s, which could then occupy entire floors of buildings. And in addition to the billions of dollars of research and development that have created today’s communication technologies, other properties make mobile phones well-suited for space travel: “Mobiles are remarkably robust, capable of surviving everything – from the extreme heat of a car dashboard in Africa to the cold of an Alaskan winter. They can be dropped on concrete, left in the rain and even survive the washing machine (although not, as I discovered, the tumble drier). In comparison, space should be a doddle.”