The 4-inch-square satellite, PhoneSat 2.4, which uses an off-the-shelf Samsung Nexus S phone running Google's Android operating system, transmitted data back to its Santa Clara University ground station, the space agency announced last week.
As the number implies, this is not the first smartphone NASA has hurled into orbit. The first, in April, proved the concept of using commercially available electronics for satellites in low-Earth orbit. The satellite has long since burned up on re-entry to Earth's atmosphere, ending the planned one-week mission.
The new-generation smartphone satellite isn't strictly off-the-shelf it got some serious mods at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., including solar batteries. This one also uses a two-way, S-band radio that lets engineers guide its orientation.
"NASA is committed to opening up the high frontier to a new generation of explorers who can take advantage of these sorts of small satellites to do science and technology development at a fraction of the cost of larger, more complex spacecraft," said Michael Gazarik, NASA's associate administrator for space technology in Washington.
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