Skip to Content

We Know the Google NexusOne Can Survive a Hard Vacuum Because Someone Shot It into Space

A consortium of students and NASA is sending phones into low earth orbit because they’re as good or better than conventional nanosatellites

I don’t know why they don’t just write this right on the box: “Can survive an absolute vacuum!” Owing to its superior processing capabilities and small size, the Google NexusOne (as well as the original HTC Android) are under continuous testing as the brains of small, “cube” satellites.

“A stock Android HTC … mounted in a cubesat chassis with extra batteries and a yellow metal tape measure for an antenna.”

It’s all part of an educational effort spearheaded by the Mavericks Civilian Space Foundation, which has found that “a stock Android HTC phone can work just fine as a low-cost satellite (it has a better processor than many satellites, and decent multi-axis sensors and GPS.)”

The second image at the top of this post (of the cubesat) is from a launch via balloon, which took the satellite to 100,000 feet. The rest of the pictures, captured from this video, are from a launch that used a small conventional rocket.

Unfortunately, the two phones used in this launch did not survive – despite the rocket’s parachute, its internals turned into a crumple zone upon impact. Next step: using a more rugged phone.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

AV2.0 autonomous vehicles adapt to unknown road conditions concept
AV2.0 autonomous vehicles adapt to unknown road conditions concept

The big new idea for making self-driving cars that can go anywhere

The mainstream approach to driverless cars is slow and difficult. These startups think going all-in on AI will get there faster.

biomass with Charm mobile unit in background
biomass with Charm mobile unit in background

Inside Charm Industrial’s big bet on corn stalks for carbon removal

The startup used plant matter and bio-oil to sequester thousands of tons of carbon. The question now is how reliable, scalable, and economical this approach will prove.

AGI is just chatter for now concept
AGI is just chatter for now concept

The hype around DeepMind’s new AI model misses what’s actually cool about it

Some worry that the chatter about these tools is doing the whole field a disservice.

images created by Google Imagen
images created by Google Imagen

The dark secret behind those cute AI-generated animal images

Google Brain has revealed its own image-making AI, called Imagen. But don't expect to see anything that isn't wholesome.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.