NASA's Nexus-made small satellite phones home

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Nic Healey can usually be found on a couch muttering about aspect ratios and 7.1 channel sound - which is helpful given that he's the home entertainment guy at CNET.

NASA's smartphone-based tiny satellite has called in from space to let the folks at home know everything's OK.

(Credit: NASA)

PhoneSat 2.4 is a 10-centimetre square and weighs just 1 kilogram. It's built from an off-the-shelf Nexus S smartphone and was deployed back on 19 November via a NASA-built Nanosatellite Launch Adapter System aboard an Orbital Sciences Minotaur 1 rocket.

Unlike its predecessors, PhoneSat 2.4 uses a two-way S-band radio, allowing engineers to command the satellite from Earth and allowing it to report back.

It's all part of an experiment around the viability of using commercially available electronics to power low-earth-orbit satellites.

Michael Gazarik, NASA's associate administrator for space technology in Washington, said:

NASA is committed to opening up the high frontier to a new generation of explorers who can take advantage of these sorts of small satellites to do science and technology development at a fraction of the cost of larger, more complex spacecraft.

The next step will be PhoneSat 2.5, scheduled to launch in February 2014. These models are "pathfinders" for NASA's Edison Demonstration of Smallsat Networks (EDSN) project. This is comprised of eight different model "cubesats" and aims to "demonstrate the concept of using many small spacecraft in a coordinated cluster to study the space environment and space-to-space communications techniques".

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