Android in Spaaaaaaace! Will he ever come back?

| December 22, 2010 | Reply

It was only a matter of time until Andy Android found himself tired of life down here on Earth and decided to go visit space, and that time was Today!  Google sent Andy Android up to space and took some great video with a Nexus S.  Check out the awesome video and storry described by the team over at Google’s Mobile Blog.

Google’s Mobile Blog says:

Here at Google, we’re all about exploration. It’s no surprise that some of our favorite products are built to let you explore the world in ways never before possible. Google Maps lets you find your way all around the world. Google Earth lets you explore the planet in detail, complete with trees and oceans. And Google Sky Map lets you explore the skies right from your Android device. Well, we wanted to do a little exploring of our own, so we decided to venture into near space, with the help of some Androids.

Recently, we travelled to Ione, CA and sent seven payloads up, up, and away into near space, each equipped with a Nexus S. We took some cues from others who have sent homemade weather balloon rigs far up, and we wanted an opportunity to collect some interesting data about the sensors in Nexus S – GPS, gyroscope, accelerometer, and magnetometer. We also couldn’t resist what looked like a great way to spend a weekend. Sending the balloons up also gave us an opportunity to capture some stunning imagery and videos of Earth. Take a look at unaltered footage of an Android at over 100,000 ft above the Earth’s surface.

Video Of Andy Android in space:

Google Mobile Blog describes the Rig:

The Rig
How did we get our little Android commanders that high up? 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).

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. Check out an in-depth look at how we prepared and launched the payloads.

Read more on Andy Android up in space at Google Mobile Blog.

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During the day I work in graphic design and also do photography. By night I try to play with programming and code of all different types. I love the opportunity to write for the site and hope to see it grow as time goes on.