NASA’s Small Satellite Will Use Google Nexus as the Main Processing Unit

Google NexusNASA will use Android-powered smartphones to control future mini satellites. The “Phonesat” project is a part of the Small Spacecraft Technology Program, which attempts to integrate common consumer electronic products into small-sized satellites. There’s still no definite launch date for PhoneSat, but three small satellites will be rocket-bound later this year. If successful, the project should significantly reduce the development costs of future NASA projects, without reducing reliability.

The team behind “PhoneSat” is looking for possibility of using this approach for low-cost Earth observations, moon explorations and space flight. The Phonesat 1.0 still has minimal functionality and it merely tests whether a combination of mini satellites and smartphones can survive a brief stint in space. The PhoneSat 2.0 will be launched sometime in 2013 to assist heliophysics researches.

Each mini satellite will measure 10x10x10 cm or roughly the same size as a cup. It will include basic monitoring system, external beacon, external batteries and an Android smartphone. For the moment, NASA chooses Google Nexus because it uses Android at its purest form.