Budding scientists encouraged to develop nanosatellite apps

Scientists developing a smartphone-powered nanosatellite have launched a public competition to develop applications for the phone to run in space.

The 4kg STRAND-1 (Surrey Training, Research and Nanosatellite Demonstrator) is being built by engineers at Surrey Satellite Technology and Surrey University in their free time to test ideas for lower-cost space missions.

‘Today’s mobile phones are incredibly powerful and hold huge potential for low-cost research missions,’ said Dr Chris Bridges of the university’s Surrey Space Centre.

‘We want to encourage the UK’s budding scientists and programmers to come up with exciting new ideas to harness this exciting technology in space.’

The four smartphone apps deemed the most creative, novel and fun will be selected to fly on the Android phone inside the satellite next year.

The phone will have a high-performance processor, a compass, a three-axis accelerometer and a high-resolution five-megapixel camera for the apps to use, while information on GPS position and velocity will also be available but not from the phone itself.

The Space App competition opens on 1 August 2011 and is open to any UK citizen. It must be a not-for-profit app and the team hopes it will inspire young people to take an interest in science and technology, although fun, innovative applications are allowed.

The competition’s closing date is 0900 GMT on 2 September 2011 and entries can be submitted via the Surrey Nanosatellites Facebook page.