New Satellite Lets Anyone Experiment in SpaceScience, Space, Technology Friday, June 29th, 2012
(Yahoo News) For a few hundred dollars, anyone can now buy time to run their own experiments aboard a small satellite set to launch next year. A physicist and two engineers are building a 4-inch (10 centimeters) cubic satellite designed to carry hobbyist processors into space and run citizen-written programs.
The researchers, including consultants to NASA’s Ames Research Center, want to develop a cheap spacecraft that makes space science affordable to everyday people, according to their Kickstarter page. They’re now gathering donations for spaceworthy hardware, assembly and launch.
If funded, the ArduSat spacecraft will carry more than 25 sensors, including cameras, a Geiger counter, a device that measures magnetic fields and the world’s first open-source spectrometer, called Spectrino. The ArduSat team has already wired the sensors together and they work as expected, according to their project page. Donors that buy experimentation time can use any of those sensors. The pricing for ArduSat time starts at $325 for three days.
To participate, would-be space scientists submit computer code that works on a hobbyists’ processor called Arduino (the namesake of the ArduSat). Participants can write their own code, send something they’ve found on the Internet, or use the ArduSat team’s library of template codes.
Team members, led by NASA consultant and physicist Peter Platzer, will first test the computer programs in an identical ArduSat sitting in a lab on Earth. Once they’ve debugged all the code, they’ll upload it into space. The team has already written the software to send participants’ experiments into space, they said. Participants get their data back, online, when their experimentation time is over.
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Photo By ppl4world on Kickstarter