The iPhone will soon go where no other smartphone has gone before: space. The space shuttle Atlantis will take two iPhone 4 handsets to the International Space Station on July 8th.
Astronauts will use Apple’s smartphone for scientific purposes only. Four experiments (opens in new tab) are scheduled to be carried out on the ISS using the special SpaceLab for iOS app.
"The potential for using iPhone 4 to both conduct and support in-space research and operations is enormous. The opportunity to make the experience accessible to anyone via the App Store will attract a new generation of space supporters", Brian Rishikof, CEO of Odyssey Space Research revealed.
As for the experiments, astronauts will expose the iPhone 4 to radiation to see how it fares; will use the smartphone’s sensor readings to estimate the position of the spacecraft and also to calibrate the gyroscope and the accelerometer of the smartphone. The fourth experiment, called “Limn Tracker” will let astronauts estimate their altitude using the iPhone.
SpaceLab for iOS is available for purchase from the AppStore for $0.99. iPhone owners can also test out the app themselves and carry out the same experiments. However, they should remember the experiment simulations have been adapted to the Earth’s gravity.
The iPhones’ journey into space marks an important moment for NASA since this is Atlantis’ last mission.