Weekend News: “SpaceLab for iOS” –iPhones to join space shuttle’s last mission

SpaceLab_iPhone4_270x579 When the space shuttle "Atlantis" blasts off on July 8 for its final mission, it will have a pair of iPhone 4 smartphones on board and ready to use.

The iPhones will run the "SpaceLab for iOS" app that will be used on the International Space Station (ISS) to conduct space research, the app's developer said.

"The SpaceLab for iOS app will be transported to the ISS on two, space certified iPhone 4's on the historic final mission of the Space Shuttle program, STS-135, on the orbiter Atlantis," said Odyssey Space Research, which developed the app.

Odyssey said that four experiments are to be conducted onboard the ISS. Each allows a crewmember to conduct the experiments without supplementary paper procedures. These are:

Limb Tracker, a navigation experiment which involves taking photographs of the Earth and matching an arc to the horizon through manipulation of an overlay. This performs the function roughly equivalent to a “manual" horizon sensor.

Sensor Cal (sensor calibration), an experiment that uses a series of photos of a reference image, combined with propagated information using three-axis gyro and accelerometer measurements to calibrate the gyros and the accelerometers. This will improve the knowledge and accuracy of subsequent measurements.

State Acq (State Acquisition), a navigation experiment uses a series of photos of a reference image and of the Earth, combined with information from the three-axis gyro and accelerometer, to estimate the position of the spacecraft (latitude and longitude). The position estimation is generated by manipulating and matching a wireframe overlay of the Earth's coastlines to the acquired Earth image.


LFI (Lifecycle Flight Instrumentation), an experiment that will characterize the effects of radiation on the device by monitoring certain areas of memory for Single Bit Upsets – an unintended change in value of a memory location caused by exposure to radiation.

"Both iPhone 4's will remain on the ISS for several months where the experiments will be conducted by the crew and data acquired and stored on the devices," Odyssey said.

When the experiments are completed, the two iPhones will be returned to Earth, with the first opportunity to return being aboard a Russian Soyuz vehicle, in the fall of 2011.

Odyssey said flight data from the experiments are expected to be collected, analyzed, and then shared via its app on the App Store.

Meanwhile back on the Pale Blue Dot, it said its app is available for download on the App Store so ground-based users can get a sense of experience and tasks to be performed by crew members on the ISS.

The Daily Galaxy via spaceref.com

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