Yesterday was the marked end of the Space Shuttle program for the United States but not our presence in space. The US will be chartering on the Russian Capsules at a cost of $50,000,000 per astronaut to anytime we need to head to the Space Station. But as expensive as that sounds, at least we are turning to available technology to make use of while in space for space research. Accompanying the Space Shuttles 4 Astronauts will be a pair of Apple’s iPhone 4 devices that will end up on the Space Station that will use an app from Odyssey Space Research.
Four experiments are planned. The experiments contain step-by-step procedures to allow a crew member to conduct the experiments without the need for supplementary paper procedures.
Limb Tracker This navigation experiment will involve 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. It will yield an estimate of altitude (height above the surface) and “off axis” angle, a measurement of the angle of the image with respect to the Earth’s center.
Sensor Cal This sensor calibration experiment 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 (i.e. bias and scale coefficients). This will improve the knowledge and accuracy of subsequent measurements.
State Acq State Acquisition – This 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(s). Performing multiple sequences, separated by a known amount of time, can permit estimation of the spacecraft’s orbit parameters.
LFI Lifecycle Flight Instrumentation – This experiment 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.
The official Spacelab App for iOS is only $0.99 and is available at the App Store. Click here or head on over there for more information.