Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Nexus S To Serve As Brain For 3 Robots Aboard the ISS

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the i-bid-twenty-quatloos-that-they're-all-untrainable dept.

Android 82

An anonymous reader writes "Given the NFC capabilities in Nexus S, NASA researchers are about to deploy them on the International Space Station. Two Nexus S phones will be installed in robotic floating orbs called Spheres (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites). They will be performing a variety of everyday tasks like taking inventory and inspecting equipment, which will free up the human crew members for other duties. Currently the Spheres are in testing mode, as the video shows, but are expected to be up and running by the end of the year."

cancel ×

82 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

well ok (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699154)

But I thought we were still using Intel 80386SX chips in NASA cause apparently radiation hardening takes decades, but yet a consumer grade phone is fine?

either someone is full of shit on the radiation hardening, or that's one fucking amazing phone!

Re:well ok (2)

Scragglykat (1185337) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699202)

I think radiation hardening is available free from Amazon Appstore today.

Re:well ok (2)

TrisexualPuppy (976893) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699442)

Sure, but can you trust it? Think about it.

Radiation could make a sphere like this [nocookie.net] behave like a sphere like this [originalprop.com] .

Just think about it.

Mod parent up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36699468)

Vader says: "Impressive!"

Re:Doctor Ball M.D. (1)

captjc (453680) | more than 3 years ago | (#36703478)

behave like a sphere like this.

Are you talking shit about Dr. Ball M.D. [adultswim.com] ? He's a doctor not a savage. That was a flu shot! Good Day Sir!

Re:well ok (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36699204)

Android phones are just that much better than the iPhone.

Re:well ok (2)

bonch (38532) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699538)

Is that why space shuttle Atlantis launched today carrying two iPhone 4s running SpaceLab for iOS?

Re:well ok (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36700248)

iPhones 4s are used in that case due high EM interference; the poor iPhone 4 antennas are less likely to detect anything.

Re:well ok (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36699250)

Maybe these do such non-critical tasks that they can still function with repeated resets due to crashes and RAM trashing during the day.

For the CPU that controls the rockets and robot arms and bay doors and stuff, you want that one radiation hardened.

Re:well ok (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 3 years ago | (#36703246)

Its true: "Angry birds" is not actually mission critcal.

Re:well ok (1)

quailman67 (1336579) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699272)

The Spheres will be operating strictly within the crew area, I'm sure a phone can handle more radiation than an astronaut can.

Re:well ok (2)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699324)

The Spheres will be operating strictly within the crew area, I'm sure a phone can handle more radiation than an astronaut can.

Right. Because the type of radiation that could bump a register is not likely to even register a bump in a person. Maybe you should learn *why* radiation hardening is important. Hint: It's not because of cancer.

iPhone is being tested on this shuttle flight (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699284)

But I thought we were still using Intel 80386SX chips in NASA cause apparently radiation hardening takes decades, but yet a consumer grade phone is fine?

The jury is still out but the devices are being looked at for non-critical tasks - the shuttle mission that just went up includes two iPhones that have been certified to go into space, and will be tested there to see how they hold out against the radiation:

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/06/iphone-space-shuttle/ [wired.com]

Since components are similar across many devices, I'm sure if the iPhone can hold out the Android devices will be OK too.

Re:iPhone is being tested on this shuttle flight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36699392)

Fuckin hell! Some people just can't leave their iPhones!!

Re:iPhone is being tested on this shuttle flight (0)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699596)

I'm sure if the iPhone can hold out the Android devices will be OK too

So you are saying that the worst Android device is still better than the best iPhone.

Re:iPhone is being tested on this shuttle flight (1)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 3 years ago | (#36703232)

no, he is saying that all consumer grade electronic gadgets probably have the same level of radiation resistance, regardless of build quality, software, etc.

Re:iPhone is being tested on this shuttle flight (3, Funny)

rvw (755107) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699618)

But I thought we were still using Intel 80386SX chips in NASA cause apparently radiation hardening takes decades, but yet a consumer grade phone is fine?

The jury is still out but the devices are being looked at for non-critical tasks - the shuttle mission that just went up includes two iPhones that have been certified to go into space, and will be tested there to see how they hold out against the radiation:

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/06/iphone-space-shuttle/ [wired.com]

I bet this is all part of some secret agreement over the use of the i in iSS.

Re:iPhone is being tested on this shuttle flight (1)

EETech1 (1179269) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699804)

Damn, where are my mod points! That's fzcking funny!
Nice one :D

Re:iPhone is being tested on this shuttle flight (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699916)

Oh my bad I thought jobs hand drafted the A4 (or whatever) using the blood of Jesus on the back of the dead sea scrolls ... least that's the way the sales pitch I heard yesterday at bestbuy made it seem ...

I am a bit disappointed

Re:well ok (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699292)

I assume these are add-ons to the usual processor and OS. I would be surprised if NASA would trust Android and Nexus for critical applications.

Re:well ok (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36702502)

I assume these are add-ons to the usual processor and OS.

Yes, they use Amarino [amarino-toolkit.net] to interface with the avionics. Otherwise the Nexus would have no way of opening the Tannhauser gate.

Re:well ok (2)

Tynin (634655) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699316)

It could be that these are simply prototypes and if the concept works out they then bother to spend the extra cash for something that is radiation hardened. Seems like it would be a much cheaper approach to take.

Re:well ok (1)

usul294 (1163169) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699328)

Seeing as they aren't mission-critical, and just an experiment, they don't need to be rad-hard. If one of these guys fail, its not the a big deal. The life-support system computer needs to be hardened, on the other hand.

Re:well ok (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36699922)

Shielding is relatively cheap and easy for a device that small.

But rad-hard PCs are up around 1 Ghz these days.

LEO isn't that hostile an environment (4, Informative)

erice (13380) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699944)

ISS is in low Earth orbit, below the Van Alan belts. The radiation environment isn't that severe. A study performed in the early 90's found that off the shelf electronics were fine for LEO. For geosync and higher orbits, minor shielding was needed to achieve reliable operation.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=6&sqi=2&ved=0CE4QFjAF&url=http%3A%2F%2Frsta.royalsocietypublishing.org%2Fcontent%2F361%2F1802%2F193.full.pdf&rct=j&q=low%20earth%20orbit%20radiation%20environment&ei=BmgXTrarKIa0sAPB3s3uDQ&usg=AFQjCNHCt82GlFwEYW4z90dov1umXWOh_Q&sig2=O5-vlK7lpRbKEBSzrgSSsw&cad=rja [google.com]

Re:LEO isn't that hostile an environment (1)

rumith (983060) | more than 3 years ago | (#36702622)

First, ISS regularly passes through the South Atlantic Anomaly (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Atlantic_Anomaly), which can be described as the location when the van Allen belts are much closer to the Earth's surface due to the configuration of the geomagnetic field (the "shift" of the magnetic dipole). Second, whenever there is an solar extreme event like a powerful coronal mass ejection or a solar flare, it is usually accompanied by high-energy protons that are capable of penetrating most of the magnetosphere even at equatorial latitudes, and damage ISS and the astronauts. To the best of my knowledge, the station really goes on alert and the crew stays inside whenever there is a big bunch of high-speed solar radiation coming in. And now that we're finally out of the solar minimum, we'll be seeing more and more solar extreme events for the next few years.

That's just what they want you to think! (1)

Benfea (1365845) | more than 3 years ago | (#36702852)

Clearly the robots are laying the groundwork for the Robot Revolution as we speak. They'll just let the radiation kill all the humans on board while the floating robospheres of death laugh mechanically at all the photons that pass harmlessly through them. One shudders to think what the robospheres could do with a space station and several human corpses in low Earth orbit!

Re:That's just what they want you to think! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36705476)

That will be one badass movie!

Re:well ok (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36700084)

either someone is full of shit on the radiation hardening, or that's one fucking amazing phone!

To quote a line from a pretty well known movie: There is.... another [possibility that you have overlooked]. Life is rarely black and white and often you look wiser by asking a question rather than making a blanket statement of facts when you lack all relevant information.
 
These are prototypes and are not used in a mission critical application. Thus they don't need radiation hardened chips and their cost can be minimized. (I.E. pretty much the same answer as has been given many times here on Slashdot for the other commercial grade hardware that has flown over the years.)

Re:well ok (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 3 years ago | (#36700864)

They take regular laptops into space every trip. The hardening is for critical systems like flight, life support, etc. If a laptop or phone dies, nothing happens.

Re:well ok (1)

ruthless reader (1892470) | more than 3 years ago | (#36700888)

Steve Jobs... is that you?

Re:well ok (1)

spectral7 (2030164) | more than 3 years ago | (#36700924)

But I thought we were still using Intel 80386SX chips in NASA cause apparently radiation hardening takes decades, but yet a consumer grade phone is fine?

either someone is full of shit on the radiation hardening, or that's one fucking amazing phone!

An iPhone is also going to ISS. According to NASA, "[the iPhone] will be housed inside a small research platform built by NanoRacks," (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/behindscenes/whatsgoingup135.html) so presumably the Nexus phones are, too.

There's another explanation (1)

Benfea (1365845) | more than 3 years ago | (#36702840)

The robots aren't doing anything important. The 386 chips are probably in something a little more critical than a floating robot inventory-taker.

Re:well ok (1)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 3 years ago | (#36703240)

thinkpads have been used in the space shuttle for years, iirc. they didn't need to be hardened or anything. phones should be fine, too.

Re:well ok (1)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 3 years ago | (#36703738)

either someone is full of shit on the radiation hardening, or that's one fucking amazing phone!

A phone/laptop that is already in the ISS / shuttle, is already enjoying the same radiation protection privileges that the crew enjoys - take that device to real space, and then you are going to need some hardcore radiation hardening (like the one space drones and landers employ)

In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36699160)

Nasa creates first special needs robots.

Spheres, huh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36699178)

SPAAAAAAAAAACEEEE!

Interesting... (1)

mrquagmire (2326560) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699192)

But I wonder if they are modified in any way. I would have thought that electronics that go into space had to be radiation-hardened and be produced with components that are more reliable / have tighter specs than what are used in consumer devices. Cool idea, though.

Re:Interesting... (1)

Normal Dan (1053064) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699266)

phones will be installed in robotic floating orbs called Spheres

Re:Interesting... (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699358)

You only need to rad-harden critical systems. The SPHERES are one step up from toys as far as the actual operation of the station goes. If their OS crashes, you reboot, no big deal.

Re:Interesting... (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699540)

But I wonder if they are modified in any way. I would have thought that electronics that go into space had to be radiation-hardened and be produced with components that are more reliable / have tighter specs than what are used in consumer devices. Cool idea, though.

Well, they have to be verified and potentially dangerous components removed and replaced with less dangerous ones. I think, for example, the batteries are swapped out with ones that may not spontaneously catch fire. There was an article a few years ago about what it took to bring an iPod to space - they took out the battery and replaced it with alkalines, for example.

http://www.tuaw.com/2008/03/15/ipods-rock-the-space-shuttle/ [tuaw.com]

LIkewise, the iPhones aboard Atlantis are probalby similarly modified.

As for rad-hard, it's running an experiment. As long as the robots can't go do anything potentially life-threatening (like try to break through the wall), it doesn't matter. If radiation causes them to crash or collect incorrect data, that's something for the data analysis phase to handle.

In other words, expect radiation to mess things up and design your experiment appropriately.

Critical systems, though, require rad hardening.

Nexus 6 (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699226)

Now that lawsuit brought against Google for use of the name Nexus doesn't seem so frivolous.
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2010-01/07/content_12772459.htm

Re:Nexus 6 (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699338)

Now that lawsuit brought against Google for use of the name Nexus doesn't seem so frivolous. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2010-01/07/content_12772459.htm [xinhuanet.com]

You mean... *gasp* that a common english word with a pretty generic meaning might actually get used in something important?

Seriously. Grow up.

NASA Data Plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36699230)

I wonder what the bill is going to be like when they surpass the data cap.

I um...huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36699234)

I'm sure that at least some of this is just a way of advertising the Nexus S (And NASA getting some cash from that), but how damned good is this phone that it's better than just producing their own computer that can send/receive wireless signals?

I guess NASA is attempting to get cost effective by using mass produced components? Yeah, it's nice that they're possibly saving some cast on it, but it just feels...weird to me though.

Still not as weird (or sad) as back when I read a story about soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan begging their families at home to send them walkie talkies from radio shack/wal-mart though. Ah mass produced consumer goods, is there any government undertaking you *can't* make cheaper?

Luke Skywalker Called (1)

boristdog (133725) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699244)

He wants his lightsaber practice sphere back.

Android inside an Android (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36699268)

Hope they don't get a "Force Close" toast in ISS

Portal-bots (1)

turtledawn (149719) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699274)

Aww, they even come in different colors like the eyebots in Portal. And that is a lot of piercings on their lead dev.

Anyone else reminded of Flash Gordon? (1)

Qubit (100461) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699286)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sa_p9Up9DFg#t=2m00 [youtube.com]

Hail Google! Hail Lord Google!

Re:Anyone else reminded of Flash Gordon? (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699372)

Or like the floating torture-droids Vader used on Lea in Episode IV.

Re:Anyone else reminded of Flash Gordon? (1)

neBelcnU (663059) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699678)

I don't mean to thread-jack, but the Empire strongly objects to your characterization of our "Truth Facilitation and Subjects' Rights Preservation" droids. They've been deployed to insure fair treatment and accurate recording of consensual testimony, preventing the excesses of law enforcement before the Empire, and ensuring the voice of the accused is heard. To refer to these sophisticated and sensitive instruments by a catchy epithet is counter-productive, citizen, and against the goals we all share towards the glory of our Empire, and the creator. May George have mercy on your soul.

Re:Anyone else reminded of Flash Gordon? (1)

EdZ (755139) | more than 3 years ago | (#36701450)

For use as personal assistants in space, I was thinking Haro. Unfortunately, none of them are green.

If cell phones are safe enough for the ISS... (0)

S.O.B. (136083) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699300)

Does this mean that cell phones are now safe enough to use on commercial aircraft?

Re:If cell phones are safe enough for the ISS... (1)

IrquiM (471313) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699494)

They're still not allowed on ISS during take-off and landing

Re:If cell phones are safe enough for the ISS... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36699552)

Cell phones should be allowed in the cargo hold, next to the children under 12.

Flying is a hassle enough, keep the ban on cell phones.

can you hear me now? (1)

Cyko_01 (1092499) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699336)

I couldn't resist

Re:can you hear me now? (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699438)

In space, no-one can hear you (scream).

These aren't the droids you're looking for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36699346)

move along ...

Re: spelling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36699416)

It should be spelled Nexus 5, not Nexus S.

attack the darkness... (1)

odirex (1958302) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699424)

Less "sphere", more "d20". Roll Profession (astronaut).

Nexus 6...I mean S (1)

timeaisis (1679624) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699432)

It would be pretty great if the next line of Nexus phones were called Nexus 6 and then the ISS could update its robots brains to that too.

what good is a phone ... if you're unable to speak (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699444)

or, in this case a phone without a phone number.

Gundum-like (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36699464)

Kinda reminds me of "Haro" in form http://gundam.wikia.com/wiki/Haro

Added bonus (1)

s_p_oneil (795792) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699478)

When the spheres aren't busy, the crew can pull the phones out to play Angry Birds.

Surely... (1)

Nux'd (1002189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699488)

That should be SPHERESs then.

Initialism (1)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699504)

Shouldn't it be SPHERES ? I'm not going to require you to write S.P.H.E.R.E.S. , but at least use all-caps so I can tell which one you're referring to. The word "sphere" is already taken. :P Hate to be a grammar nazi but this is pretty basic stuff, actually affects how it reads...

companion cubes? (1)

schlachter (862210) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699522)

companion cubes for astronauts?

Perverse (1)

robmv (855035) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699546)

Oh my goodness. Shut me down! Androids controlling Robots. Hmm. How perverse.

Pro-Android bias (0, Troll)

bonch (38532) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699566)

Love how this is a frontage story, but the fact that the shuttle Atlantis took off today with two iPhone 4s running SpaceLab [odysseysr.com] goes unreported. Reminds me of how it's constantly mentioned that Android has passed iOS in marketshare when that only counts smartphones--with iPods and iPads counted, iOS far surpasses Android as the #1 mobile operating system.

But, this is Slashdot, which means that not only will these facts never get reported, but I'll get voted down for pointing them out in the first place. All hail Google.

Re:Pro-Android bias (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36700456)

Why don't you just "report it" instead of whining like a little bitch ?

Re:Pro-Android bias (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36703018)

No, you will not get "voted down for pointing out facts". That has never happened to you even a single time, and you know it. What you will get downmodded for is your baseless bashing of Slashdot, which is trolling. Furthermore, you only do it for attention. You desperately want Slashdot's approval and you think that you can get it by posing as a gadfly and a martyr. This has never been successful for you, and it never will be.

S.P.H.E.R.E.S. (1)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699666)

Well, they like acronyms, and the robots are kind of spherical. I have to call this one a little fake though; it seems like they WANTED to name them 'spheres', and put whatever words to get them there- as opposed to some clever moments of the past involving acronyms that where keeping it real.

Incidently, who cares; there is no more Space Shuttle.

You Nexus, Huh? (3, Funny)

cstacy (534252) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699690)

I just do eyes...

patent infringement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36699738)

If Nasa starts using android, it is likely will end up paying Microsoft for patent infringement

What's the matter? (1)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 3 years ago | (#36699948)

Nexus-class androids are cleared for off-world use. They're only banned on Earth.

thats it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36700112)

skynet is born, game over man.

I know I am mixing my sci fi metaphors.

Hilarious video (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 3 years ago | (#36700882)

It starts with a guy not being able to name what the acronym stands for and then shows the lead scientist who seems to be a facial piercings enthusiast.

Huey, Dewey, and Louie - awesome (2)

rjejr (921275) | more than 3 years ago | (#36701804)

As a big Silent Running fan I'm happy to know Huey, Dewey and Louie are a reality.

sphere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36701972)

Ohmygodohmygodohmygod! I’m in space!
Space? SPACE!
I’m in space.
Where am I? Guess. Guess guess guess. I’m in space.

SGU Kenos (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 3 years ago | (#36702480)

Sounds quite a bit like a Keno from SGU.

Signal (1)

rdnetto (955205) | more than 3 years ago | (#36703176)

Can you hear me now?

Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, ... (1)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 3 years ago | (#36703352)

Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites -> SPHERE

NASA - To boldly backronym where no sane human being has ever dared to backronym before.

Makes me cringe, laugh and stand in bedazzled amazement, all at the same time.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>