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Technology

The Next High-Tech Satellite? Your Cell Phone

NASA's next generation of satellites use cell phones as remote-operated onboard computers. 

By Arnie CooperSeptember 18, 2013 2:00 PM
phone-sat.jpg
NASA

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And you thought using your smartphone as a flashlight was a big deal. Consider NASA’s PhoneSat 1.0. mission: In a demo last spring, HTC Nexus One cell phones acted as onboard computers, powering a trio of 4-inch, 3-pound cube-shaped satellites with off-the-shelf components. 

The $3,500 units, which successfully transmitted digital images over six days while orbiting Earth, are part of the agency’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program. PhoneSat 2.0 launches this fall with a two-way S-band radio, which should give Earth-based engineers command abilities over the satellite.

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