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  • Home >> Android >> Google’s Nexus S Mobile Phone on a Space Mission

    Google’s Nexus S Mobile Phone on a Space Mission


    Nexus S is on a Space Mission. What? Yes you heard it right.

    Google sent Nexus S into the Space using seven payloads up into the space! Google wanted to collect information using Nexus S – GPS, gyroscope, accelerometer, and magnetometer. Sending the balloons up also gave us an opportunity to capture some stunning imagery and videos of Earth.

    Google’s Nexus S on Space :

    Well, first the Android platform provides a robust development environment and Nexus S has a great set of embedded sensors, both of which made it easy for us to write the apps we needed for this project. Going forward with other similar projects we have an open environment that we can modify at any level necessary. We then worked with UCSC student Greg Klein to prepare each of the payloads, which were housed in foam coolers. We secured a nylon load line to the cooler and attached to it a radar reflector, a parachute, and finally, a weather balloon. Every payload had an APRS transmitter attached to a GPS that was known to work at high altitudes, as well as batteries for power. The remainder of each payload was different for each balloon: some had digital cameras taking pictures and some had video cameras mounted at various angles (up, down, and at the horizon).

    Nexus S in Space Mission

    Nexus S Collected data in the Space


    The payloads collected a lot of data, and many reached high altitudes, with the highest topping out at 107,375 ft., over 20 miles high, or over three times the height of an average commercial jet. We also clocked one of the payloads at 139 mph at its fastest.

    In tracking the sensors on each of the phones, we observed that the GPS in Nexus S could function up to altitudes of about 60,000 ft. and would actually start working again on the balloon’s descent. We also saw that Nexus S could withstand some pretty harsh temperatures (as low as -50˚C). Some interesting data we collected:
    Maximum Speed: 139 mph
    Maximum Altitude: 107,375 ft (over 20 miles, over 30 km)
    Maximum Ascent Rate: 5.44 m/s
    Average Flight Duration: 2 hours, 40 minutes
    Average Descent Time: 34 minutes

    By analyzing all the collected data, we were able to find some interesting trends. For instance, we determined the speed and altitude of the jet stream: about 130mph at 35,000 ft.

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