Astdroid project helps your phone navigate in low Earth orbit [UPDATE]

January 30, 2012
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We've seen Android slip the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God (or at least slip past the upper sections of the atmosphere) before, but at least one developer wants to make it an everyday occurrence. Various weather balloon and rocket delivery systems from students and hobbyists have given us dirst-cheap photos and videos of the Earth in the last few years (including this nifty Lego-themed project from Canada) and Denver-based developer Danny Pier thinks the whole process can be streamlined with an Android phone. To that end, he's developing an app that will record pictures and video as well as GPS information in an all-in-one package.

Pier hopes to send his own phone into space first, using the now familiar combination of a weather balloon and deploy-able parachute. When the helium balloon reaches a height where the pressure from the gas on the inside is too great (about 20 miles above sea level) it explodes, and the rig parachutes down. Generally people like to set a video camera going while it does so, and the Astdroid app will do this while recording data from GPS, though the satellites are pointed in such a way that GPS data only works up to a bout 60,000 feet. Once the rig falls into an area where it can receive GPS signals again, the app sends out a homing location and the user can recover his or her phone.

Pier's project is located at Kickstarter, where he's already reached his $1800 goal to fund equipment and development. He hopes to be able to send limited video from the app itself, live as it goes up - though of course, even the best phone can't receive a signal past a few vertical miles. Once he's made a successful flight, Pier will release the app to the public, and good times will be had by all. Good luck Danny!

UPDATE: Developer Craig Isakson let us know in the comments that he has a similar app that's already available. If you're planning some astronomical awesomeness, check out SpaceTracker in the Android Market.


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