Google’s Nexus S Android Phone Goes to Space

Last Updated: December 22, 2010 at 6:46 pm

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Android in Space!

Android in Space! Image Credit: Official Google Blog

iPhones may be very popular, however, as of today, Google’s Android has been in space. Google wished to do something special for the launch of the new Nexus S. They decided to literally launch it. They got the phone, or actually, 7 phones, up in space by means of weather balloons.

Google employees constructed 7 hobby-style balloons using information they had gotten from others who had constructed their own homemade balloons. They sent the phones up into space in order to collects some data about the sensors in the Nexus S. These sensors include a GPS, gyroscope, accelerometer and a magnetometer. They did, however, have an ulterior motive for the voyage… They wanted to have a nice way to spend a weekend. They didn’t know what could be better than sending some Androids up into space.

While up there, the various still cameras and video cameras that they sent up with the phones were able to capture some amazing imagery and videos of the Earth.

“Piloting” the balloons were little Android robots which are visible in some of the footage and photographs.

Sending their phones into space is a big step for Google. They have showed what the devices can withstand, as well as the possibilities out there for adventure. It doesn’t seem to have costed a lot of money for the company as the balloons were homemade and the devices were all safely returned to Earth.

Here’s a little something that Zi Wang, Captain, Mission Android Headquarters posted in a blog post:

“These phones were running a variety of apps: Google Maps for Mobile 5.0 (with offline map data) which allowed us to see what was directly below the balloon, Google Sky Map to see if we could identify the real stars in the backdrop, Latitude to report location when the phones had a data connection, and our own custom sensor logging app that sampled all the available sensors on the device. We even manned our payloads with some special astronauts: small Android robots, and boy did they fly.”

Also, here is some of the data that the phones collected:

“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”


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First Published: December 22, 2010 at 6:46 pm

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