The SpaceX-3 mission should hopefully launch tomorrow (Monday, April 14) and will deploy the latest SmallSat. PhoneSat 2.5 is built from mostly consumer off the shelf products such as the Samsung Galaxy S platform smartphone and Android OS that provides most of the satellite control systems.
In addition to the large memory, fast processors, GPS receivers, gyroscope and magnetometer sensors and high-resolution cameras commonly found in smartphones, the PhoneSat 2.5 also houses a low-cost commercial attitude determination and control system that contains reaction wheels that by slowing down or speeding up, can rotate the satellite. Engineers hope to determine if this control system can orient PhoneSat in space, a critical capability for satellites that may need to point towards a specific object of scientific interest like an asteroid, star or features on Earth. The missions also gather further information about the orbital lifespan of the smartphone components.
"By advancing the price performance of nanosatellites using consumer electronics, we can make some of the more radical ideas become economically viable," said Jasper Wolfe, PhoneSat Control System lead at NASA Ames.