When the word “satellite” is mentioned, what comes across your mind? Most folks would think of something large and unwieldy, full of mechanical bolts and nuts that only a rocket scientist can understand. Others would think of Soundwave from the Transformers movie, but the Strand-1 satellite here is touted to be the real deal. Seriously, it was announced a couple of years back, and is finally on course for takeoff later this month. Specially developed by Britain’s Surrey Satellite Technology Limited and the Surrey Space Centre, the Strand-1 is not large by satellite standards, and holds the distinction of being the world’s first smartphone satellite that has been housed around the chassis of a Google Nexus One handset.

The moment it hits orbit, the satellite will make use of specially developed apps in order to pick up scientific data. Apart from data collection, the researchers will make use of the Strand-1’s 5-megapixel camera in order to shoot images of the Earth and Moon. The first phase of the satellite’s operation will be controlled using a Linux operating system, but in phase two, things are set to change, with the satellite’s controls being transferred over to the handset’s Android operating system, which will be operated remotely from a control station at the University of Surrey.

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