NASA Hopes Smartphones Can Help Satellites Orbit Earth

An Orbital Science rocket carrying three smartphones lifted into space Sunday as NASA seeks to determine if the devices could function as flight avionics on a satellite.

NASA intends for the PhoneSat spacecraft to send information on the phones’ health back to Earth for the agency determine if they can function as satellites, NASA said Monday.

The agency said the satellites should orbit the Earth for up to two weeks as the PhoneSat team at Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. will track the satellites.

Michael Gazarik, associate administrator for space technology, said smartphones could potentially help develop new technologies for atmospheric or Earth science, communications or other space-born applications.

They also may open space to a whole new generation of commercial, academic and citizen-space users,” Gazarik said.

While in orbit, the satellites will attempt to take pictures of Earth and transmit the photos to amateur operators around the world.

“It’s always great to see a space technology mission make it to orbit — the high frontier is the ultimate testing ground for new and innovative space technologies of the future,” Gazarik said.

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