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Here is the phone that powers NASA space robots (hint: it runs Android)

Here is the phone that powers NASA space robots (hint: it runs Android)
NASA embarked on an ambitious project a couple of years ago - using a smartphone to power its space robot, the SPHERES satellite. The robots are helpers used in the International Space Station (ISS) to examine cameras and check sound and radiation levels.

The project is now live and there are two smartphones in space on the ISS helping with operations, but picking the right phone and preparing it for its journey was not a trivial task. Interestingly, after looking at the HTC Nexus One, the team decided to skip on it and actually use the next generation Samsung Nexus S. Here is why:

"We knew of other projects that were using the Nexus One, and HTC had done some interesting things in that phone that didn't make it ideal for us. It has to do with [HTC's] battery technology—it has to be a proprietary battery or it won’t boot up,” Mark Micire, research scientist and project lead of the Intelligent Robotics Group at Nasa said.

The battery requirement has a lot to do with they way batteries crash. Conventional alkaline batteries leakage is much easier to contain and that’s one of the modifications the NASA team did for the Nexus S - it made it run on them.

Image courtesy of Ars Technica.

Image courtesy of Ars Technica.

But then came the software challenges. Since not everything is publicly available, a lot of reverse engineering had to happen. Because of possible interference, NASA engineers had to put the phone in a constant airplane mode, and after some tinkering they found out that it was the TXRX amplifier that had to be removed to achieve that.

Ultimately, the Human Exploration and Telerobotics Project (HET) behind all that showed its respect for the big achievement that Android is saying “you just get so much that comes for free with the platform.”

"We made the right decision by going with Android because the ability to remove the lithium battery and have it run off of alkaline batteries I think would have been a lot more difficult with the Apple products... and having it work without a driver under Windows XP … It’s humbling to say that even NASA can’t outrun the advancements that are happening with the mobile phone,” said Micire.

source: Ars Technica

  • Options

posted on 25 Mar 2013, 09:28 2

1. xperiaDROID (banned) (Posts: 5629; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)

Why no Nexus 4, Nasa? WHY?

posted on 25 Mar 2013, 09:33 15

3. CanYouSeeTheLight (Posts: 1122; Member since: 05 Jul 2012)

You must think Nasa does stuff in 1 day.. There is a lot of research in to this and if you did read the article they had to do reverse engineering and they need to be able to swap the battery for an alkaline one, is it that hard to read?

posted on 25 Mar 2013, 09:46 1

5. xperiaDROID (banned) (Posts: 5629; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)

It is a joke dude, of course I've read the article.

posted on 25 Mar 2013, 10:58 2

13. wendygarett (unregistered)

Some people just can't take sarcasm

posted on 26 Mar 2013, 12:51

34. oFreddEo (Posts: 7; Member since: 26 Feb 2012)

Wendy, you can suck my d**k! Litterally. Damb you fine! & f**k Apple!

posted on 25 Mar 2013, 11:20 6

15. Sentient6 (Posts: 16; Member since: 02 Dec 2012)

Stupid troll is a stupid troll.

posted on 25 Mar 2013, 11:50 2

17. xperiaDROID (banned) (Posts: 5629; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)

I'm not a troll dude, I don't get it, why would you say that?

Geez....... you are the first guy who called me a troll....congrats to you, HAPPY NOW? END OF THE STORY!

posted on 09 Dec 2013, 17:06

36. applesucker (Posts: 81; Member since: 29 Oct 2013)

do you say its fake? well sorry because it's already launched into space

posted on 25 Mar 2013, 11:01 2

14. Nikolas.Oliver (banned) (Posts: 1574; Member since: 01 Jul 2012)

then why don't they use galaxy nexus instead? galaxy nexus has removable battery, too

posted on 25 Mar 2013, 15:53 1

25. JonBjSig (Posts: 176; Member since: 17 Nov 2011)

Because the Galaxy Nexus hadn't even been conceived of yet when the project started.

posted on 25 Mar 2013, 09:30 15

2. ajac09 (Posts: 1482; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)

More proof of the flexibility of android over IOS ( and others). Also proof NASA is cheap haha

posted on 25 Mar 2013, 12:41

19. jsdechavez (Posts: 758; Member since: 20 Jul 2012)

Well, they can't afford a flop much like these manufacturing companies. Their projects cost millions of dollars. And their feat among others means low-core (even single) computing is enough.

posted on 25 Mar 2013, 09:37 13

4. MrJerry (Posts: 403; Member since: 05 Oct 2012)

Now even NASA starts reviewing smartphones lol

posted on 25 Mar 2013, 10:01 3

7. XperiaPrince (Posts: 108; Member since: 25 Dec 2012)

Now the robots will laaaaaagggggg!!!!! I love android tough

posted on 25 Mar 2013, 10:38 8

8. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10457; Member since: 14 May 2012)

Go away troll.

posted on 25 Mar 2013, 09:51 6

6. shadowkiller (Posts: 8; Member since: 20 Mar 2013)

pretty sure samsung paid them

posted on 25 Mar 2013, 10:52 10

11. umadddd (banned) (Posts: 29; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)

butthurt level: over 9000

posted on 25 Mar 2013, 11:47 5

16. pixelado (Posts: 130; Member since: 16 Feb 2013)

B... bu... but monkeys can use iPads!!!

posted on 25 Mar 2013, 12:03 1

18. Neurone (Posts: 54; Member since: 05 Mar 2013)

Andriod rules even in space !

posted on 25 Mar 2013, 13:40 3

20. lolioslol (banned) (Posts: 182; Member since: 10 Dec 2012)

Of course it runs Android, appfail cannot even get their novelty crap to work on the planet we are on. The thought of sattelites whizzing around powered by apple maps is terrifying!

posted on 25 Mar 2013, 14:58 3

23. _PHug_ (Posts: 463; Member since: 11 Oct 2011)

So NASA won't use HTC?

Smart people

posted on 25 Mar 2013, 17:52 3

27. rusticguy (Posts: 2828; Member since: 11 Aug 2012)

Proprietary battery or it won't boot up. Quietly Brilliant "Exposed" . That's why Samsung sells more ...

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