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Fly Your Own Experiment In Space

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the in-space-no-one-knows-it's-a-time-share dept.

Space 76

An anonymous reader writes "Want to fly your own experiment in space? dvice are reporting on a project called Ardusat — a satellite based (unsurprisingly perhaps, given the name) on Arduinos. For $500 you can upload your own code to the satellite, and run your own experiment for 1 week. Experimenters will have access to a veritable battery of 25 sensors including magnetometer, geiger counter, accelerometer, gas sensors and various others. As well as allowing for affordable space science, this sounds like it would be awesome for educational institutes."

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whats that code for free HBO?? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40341019)

whats that code for free HBO??

Re:whats that code for free HBO?? (5, Funny)

infonography (566403) | more than 2 years ago | (#40342127)

A, B, A, B, right, left, right, left, down, down, up, up


Waiter! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40342565)

There's a fly in my space!

And why exactly? (5, Insightful)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | more than 2 years ago | (#40341065)

Why exactly would you want to run code ON the satellite? "run sensors, download data" That's pretty much the drill... The interesting code is what you run to analyze the data AFTER you get it...

Re:And why exactly? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40341097)

Exactly. This is nothing but a marketing ploy combined with a money grab. They should simply record the data from the sensors, and then release it freely to be analyzed by anyone.

Re:And why exactly? (3, Informative)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 2 years ago | (#40341159)

The article makes it sound like you can control the aiming of the sensors. That could be worthwhile if so.

Re:And why exactly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40341207)

aim it at D11 Transponder #7 501/1020

Re:And why exactly? (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 2 years ago | (#40345425)

You know I can't do that, Dave.

Most sensors don't care (3, Insightful)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | more than 2 years ago | (#40341375)

Or they're pretty specialized. Honestly, the sensor suite that they have on their proposed satellite isn't going to care what code is running it, the only thing that could possibly be interesting to do is point the thing in some direction so the camera can take a picture of it. They could do that just with a single simple app that points the thing in a specific direction at a specific time. All the other sensors might as well just be sampled constantly and the data downlinked.

I could see things being more interesting with a more customized set of sensors perhaps, but REALLY the only thing you can do with one of these things is point it anyway. It isn't like you're going to be able to stick a 20' long dipole magnetometer on one!

Still, it sounds fun as an educational thing for schools. People could learn a few things about how REAL code is engineered, written, and flight qualified, hehe. Of course 99% of /. could probably use that lesson! I know developing code that has flown on various things was quite a good way for me to learn, that's for sure (and no the next 747 you fly in probably won't fall out of the sky, and if it does it was someone else's fault, V-22s OTOH may be a different matter, but you couldn't pay me enough to set foot in one anyway...).

Re:Most sensors don't care (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40341525)

I could see things being more interesting with a more customized set of sensors perhaps, but REALLY the only thing you can do with one of these things is point it anyway. It isn't like you're going to be able to stick a 20' long dipole magnetometer on one!

On one of what, exactly? You're not talking about this satellite, since you're talking about customized sensors -- and I'm not sure what launch form-factor you're envisioning that you absolutely couldn't put an inflatable or centrifugal 20' boom on.

Re:Most sensors don't care (2)

Joel.Spark (2663789) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344703)

You're bang-on about the educational aspect, giving students a chance to get actual hands-on experience with coding real hardware is a big part of what we're trying to accomplish. Cheers, Joel

Bon Voyage! (1)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | more than 2 years ago | (#40345213)

Hope things go really well. I'm sure we're all pretty excited about the whole thing. You guys are going to have a lot of fun with this. I'd love to see schools and such launching their own satellites in 10 years, and it really could happen. fun fun!

Re:Bon Voyage! (1)

Joel.Spark (2663789) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346031)

I agree completely, how cool would it be for high school students to someday be able to launch a CubeSat all on their own?

Re:Aiming of the sensors (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343801)

Oh! I know this one! []

Why? Massive destruction, of course! (4, Funny)

tchernobog (752560) | more than 2 years ago | (#40341253)

Then again, you could hack into the main system, power on the thrusters, and ram into a military-grade satellite, changing its azimuth. In the ensuing madness, small splinters get sent across the Earth orbit at high speed, finally surrounding us by the Kessler syndrome we deserve, and cutting us out of space for a good while.

Ah, you can't take away one man's apocalyptic dream. :-)

Maybe I can cut out a job as a space-sweeper [] .

Re:Why? Massive destruction, of course! (1)

Joel.Spark (2663789) | more than 2 years ago | (#40351007)

Sadly, our satellite won't have any propulsion, which puts a bit of a crimp in most apocalyptic plots. Too bad too, I hear supplying tech to super-villains is a good market to get into.

Re:And why exactly? (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 2 years ago | (#40342939)

You can choose what you want to image (e.g. Area51).
Here is the kickstarter page that has some more info []

Re:And why exactly? (1)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344927)

Sure, but I don't need to upload code to do that. In fact I'd imagine any sane design won't turn over actual low level spacecraft control to user supplied code, even if it has been vetted.

Re:And why exactly? (1)

AikonMGB (1013995) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343525)

Depends on what you are trying to do -- you are often limited by your downlink capabilities, so downloading large quantities of data is expensive. Sometimes you are also limited by on-board data storage or throughput. Pre-processing data on orbit and downloading the results can dramatically increase the capabilities of the spacecraft, if the data processing is a known problem and you are able to throw the MIPS at it.

Re:And why exactly? (1)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | more than 2 years ago | (#40345017)

Pretty much never done because a lot of the important questions revolve around how you actually end up interpreting the data, and raw data is far more valuable for that. When a sensor reports a voltage for instance you want that voltage reading, not some digested version of it who's calibration is hard to know. The general practice is to use compression techniques of various kinds, or some very basic data reduction. Satellites are really remote sensors, not so much remote data processing systems. In general you're better off with a lesser amount of raw data that can be interpreted accurately vs a larger amount of data who's processing may well make it very hard to interpret later.

Processing and throughput on communications channels can of course create limitations in what you can do, but looking at the design of their satellite the only channels that are going to use appreciable bandwidth are the cameras, and they'll be demanding LOTS more bandwidth than things like temperature sensors and such. From a purely technical standpoint the best strategy for getting the best data would be to put the best data acquisition code possible on the satellite and leave it at that. Said software might well be refined and upgraded regularly, but purely from an operational standpoint there's little value to be gained from running applications on the spacecraft itself beyond that.

Of course as an educational tool different considerations apply. It is a cool project and should be a great teaching tool if it works out well. It will be fun to see how it goes.

Re:And why exactly? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344657)

Hi, my name's Joel and I'm one of the engineers on the project. There's two main reasons why we want the code to be running on the satellite itself:

- we want people to be able to write code that actually makes use of the data and make the satellite respond in real-time, (like writing an algorithm to maximize power generated by a tether through steering, or maybe test new control algorithms to improve pointing accuracy of the control system)

- we want the satellite to serve as a proof-of-concept for the ability to remotely reprogram our satellites, since we're hoping to launch a bunch more in the next few years to do other missions.


High School Science Project (3, Interesting)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 2 years ago | (#40341111)

This sounds like an awesome High School Project! Imagine the fun of learning to program an Arduino, then have it do something real in-space.

Re:High School Science Project (2)

uzd4ce (1916592) | more than 2 years ago | (#40341523)

Yeah, especially when it burns up before your high school students can do anything since "None of this payload stuff (neither the sensors nor the Arduinos) are specifically space-rated or radiation-hardened or anything like that, and some of them will be exposed directly to space."

Re:High School Science Project (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#40342065)

bah, some copper tape and styrofoam your good

Re:High School Science Project (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40342873)

I certainly wouldn't bet my life-critical systems, or zillion-dollar defense-contractor-welfare-vehicle, on something banged together from ordinary parts; but it would be wholly unsurprising for it to mostly work, as long as it is watchdogged properly and the soldering isn't so dire that thermal stresses crack it immediately...

There isn't that much radiation in low orbit and microcontrollers don't exactly take very long to reboot.

Re:High School Science Project (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40345659)

No kidding, everybody in this industry is such a damn drama queen.
Radiation? Shielding solves that.
Vacuum? Epoxy potting.
Thermal stresses? Don't use lead free solder.

The standards for a life support vehicle or a billion dollar satellite are not required on a $20,000 science project.

If your vehicle isn't the size of a school bus you can vacuum test it in a fucking paint can. 14.7psi isn't shit. I send arduinos to 100s of PSI.

Re:High School Science Project (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40343709)

Exactly: the most interesting experiments you can do on this thing is testing the wear & tear of those sensors in space.

They even want to give you the opportunity to let your program run during re-entry. The chance you get any data from it during re-entry may be small, but that's part of the fun and the thrill.

Re:High School Science Project (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40342865)

We are in space.

We can finally see..... (1)

BluPhenix316 (2656403) | more than 2 years ago | (#40341117)

If that new kernel you were building can work in SPACE!!!!!!

Getaway specials (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#40341287)

Re:Getaway specials (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40342915)

As much as saying so makes me suspect that I may have only a shriveled hatred core where my sense of wonder is supposed to be, the Getaway specials program looks like a superb example of why we don't have the space shuttle anymore... An essentially PR-driven program of giving away chunks of wildly expensive orbital lift capacity without any scientific or technological justification because there apparently wasn't anything more sensible to do with it.

Re:Getaway specials (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#40342981)

The shuttle only made sense at high load factors and with good economies of scale. When that didn't happen, the flyback booster was canned, solid boosters and the throwaway ET replaced it. And then every flight was dangerous and expensive.

How so cheap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40341299)

At $500 per week, they can only make back $26,000 per year, and with a maximum lifetime of two years (according to the article), that would mean that they've have to launch it for less than $52,000.

So seeing as this can't be a money maker, if it is a success, what could be the company's next move?

Re:How so cheap? (1)

SmlFreshwaterBuffalo (608664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40341381)

They're going to pack 5-10 Arduinos on one satellite so they can have multiple programs running at once. There are also other things that can be bought: for $150 you can buy 15 images to be taken when the satellite passes over your selected targets, and for $300 you can upload a message to be broadcast for a day.

According to the article, the whole thing is expected to cost $86,500 to launch. As long as they can actually meet their budget, it shouldn't be too difficult to make some money. And if the first one is a success, it should be pretty easy for them to launch more later.

Re:How so cheap? (1)

uzd4ce (1916592) | more than 2 years ago | (#40341505)

I'm skeptical about a) timing, can they actually make a launch, i.e. they want to build it by the end of this year then launch it within 6 mo? i don't think so.... ; then b) whether or not it will actually be a success, from TFA:

"None of this payload stuff (neither the sensors nor the Arduinos) are specifically space-rated or radiation-hardened or anything like that, and some of them will be exposed directly to space. There will be some backups and redundancy, but partly, this will be a learning experience to see what works and what doesn't."

hmm... maybe burn up before anything can be done, especially considering the short schedule?

Re:How so cheap? (1)

SmlFreshwaterBuffalo (608664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40341957)

Agreed. The real question is whether or not Kickstarter backers will get their money back if the thing doesn't work.

Re:How so cheap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40342621)

"None of this payload stuff (neither the sensors nor the Arduinos) are specifically space-rated or radiation-hardened or anything like that

Good thing bitflips never happen, even less so in space.

"Hopeful" language (5, Insightful)

uzd4ce (1916592) | more than 2 years ago | (#40341359)

I wrote the following post, then just said Fuck It. Basically this article spews more shit than a shit-eater on the vomitron rollercoaster. Read if you like, i got tired and quit before finishing. Summary: people trying to scam $35k.

Just the language of the article makes it sound like a kind of pipe dream (or scam) -- nevermind why would i want to use sensors that someone else chose & put on there ... this wouldn't be a real experiment. My experiment would be making beer; I realize Sapporo already did this, but i want space-homebrew.

Instances where the language is really not making me think this is actually going to happen (and TFP is just more marketing):

"designing a satellite made almost entirely of off-the-shelf (or slightly modified) hobby-grade hardware, launching it quickly, and then using Kickstarter to give you a way to get directly involved."
  -- Very oversimplified... "it's all so quick and easy" is what it makes me think ... too easy

" ArduSat, as its name implies, will run on Arduino boards .... ArduSat will be packing.... Lots of sensors, probably 25 ..."
  -- Will run... ok, so it's not running yet. Will be packing ... ok, so it's not packing yet... "probably" ok... they haven't figured out how many???? It's mid-2012, and they're wanting to launch in 2013??? seriously???? Methinks they're running late for the train; er... rocket.

"NanoSatisfi is looking for Kickstarter funding to pay for just the launch of the satellite itself: the funding goal is $35,000. Thanks to some outside investment, it's able to cover the rest of the cost itself."
  -- So everything is covered, we just need to come up with a mere $35k? That's a lot of money for something that's still in the pipe dream phase, never mind the mysterious benefactor element. Who's the exudingly benevolent party?

"this will be a learning experience to see what works and what doesn't. The next generation of ArduSat will take all of this knowledge and put it to good use making a more capable and more reliable satellite."
  -- Translation: you're paying for our fuck-ups so we can build a better one that we'll make the real money off of; you won't be invited for that one

"If this Kickstarter goes bananas and NanoSatisfi runs out of room for people to get involved on ArduSat, no problem, it can just build and launch another ArduSat along with the first, jammed full of (say) fifty more Arduinos so that fifty more experiments can be run at the same time. Or it can launch five more ArduSats. Or ten more."
  -- Umm... where to start... yeah, we have soooooooo many slots to launch it's ridiculous; nevermind our delivery vehicles are soooo diverse that we can change payload size without any problem at all, ah, fuck this.

Re:"Hopeful" language (4, Informative)

qxcv (2422318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40341665)

This is A-grade linkbait, they're just spewing buzzwords and hoping certain news outlets (*cough* Hack-a-Day *cough* *cough*) will pick up on it and direct their readers to the Kickstarter page. Just looking through their writeup, it seems like they have absolutely no idea how they'll *actually process* the data; for example, they claim that they'll put a camera onboard, yet assuming that this camera uses one byte per-pixel channel and has a resolution of 160 * 180, they'll need (3 * 160 * 180)/1024KiB = 84KiB of memory to store a single frame and probably even more to process said frame. Yet the Arduino has only 1KiB of memory, and their downlink is unlikely to be able to transfer a whole frame in a reasonable amount of time (so no live video). That's only one of the big holes in their plan, here are some of the others:

  • They plan to put a GPS onboard, but commercial GPS receivers shut off when they reach 60, 000ft and 999kt. The satellite will exceed both of these limits mere seconds after it leaves the launchpad
  • They haven't explained *how* they plan to launch the satellite into space, or why it's costing them a mere $35, 000
  • As pointed out above, it's unknown what advantage there is to running code *onboard* the craft when you could simply analyse the data on the ground
  • None of their sensors are designed to operate in space. How will their pressure sensor work in a vacuum? Is their temperature sensor rated to work at extreme temperatures? It doesn't sound like it.

tl;dr parent is right and this is a giant load of bullshit.

Re:"Hopeful" language (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#40342093)

"Yet the Arduino has only 1KiB of memory"

Thats 2k on the standard issue arduino you insensitive clod! Mega has 8, roll your own 1284 has 16 the old arduinos has 1k .. your point still stands, and I cant figure out why in the hell would you waste the time and effort on a 8 bitter when you can get an ARM setup for chump change that could actually do everything they want with ease.

Its boggling, even for a arduino nut like me.

Re:"Hopeful" language (1)

Joel.Spark (2663789) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344819)

It's funny that you mention the ARM, since the image processing is actually done with the flight control computer, a NanoMind 712C, which uses an ARM processor.


Joel (ArduSat developer)

Re:"Hopeful" language (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40342603)

You say "Just looking through their writeup...", but did you look through their writeup (i.e. the kickstarter page)? Did you have your eyes open at the time? They absolutely did explain how they plan to launch it (they hope to get a free ride-along launch from NASA, or if they get enough money through kickstarter, to buy a commercial launch so they can choose the orbit), and that the $35,000 is for building it, not launching.

They didn't say they were running the whole thing off Arduinos, merely that it has several sets of redundant Arduinos on board to run several user programs. Maybe the camera won't be connected to the Arduinos?

No, no, they must be complete idiots, and the camera being omitted from the "explorer" and "pioneer" instrument packages available for your Arduino program is clearly an oversight. The camera is definitely meant to be connected to an Arduino, because nobody but you would have realized that was an impractical idea.

Well, the "run code in space" thing is just dumb, I agree. So at least you made one logical point... not bad?

The GPS and other sensors may well be an issue -- but the $35,000 for construction just might include an unlimited GPS receiver and such -- I have no way of knowing without asking them (which I won't, because frankly I don't care), but unlike you, I don't presume to know.

Re:"Hopeful" language (1)

Joel.Spark (2663789) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344861)

Yup, you got it - the camera itself isn't run on Arduino, but it's still controllable from the payload Arduinos.

Ack, you're right, we forgot to put the cameras in the package descriptions - thanks for the heads-up!

The idea main idea with putting the code itself in space is to let people write code that could actually use the sensor/bus data for real-time control, and actually play around with the satellite control system. It's more fun that way, wouldn't you agree? We thought actually using a satellite would be more appealing/rewarding for students/educational groups too.

Re: the GPS and other sensors, they're all either space-rated (and actually space-proven, in the case of the GPS), and the one's that aren't are going to need some limited climate control.

Joel (ArduSat developer)

Re:"Hopeful" language (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#40342899)

I for one am looking forward to them realising that electronics can't rely on convection cooling in space. Expect your typical arduino board to either toast itself or be cooked by the radiation. Someone considering doing this with an Arduino and $35000 in funding certainly has no concept of what it takes to harden space faring electronics.

Though my biggest alarm bells go off when funding is mentioned. It costs a LOT to put something into space. So they got that bit covered but can't cover the last insignificant $35k?

This project is a scam.

Re:"Hopeful" language (1)

sFurbo (1361249) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343793)

It's a cubesat, which, according to WP "In 2004, with their relatively small size, CubeSats could each be made and launched for an estimated $65,000–$80,000.", so 35.000$ is a significant part of the total budget.

Re:"Hopeful" language (1)

Joel.Spark (2663789) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344915)

The thermal management of the Arduinos is definitely an issue - that's partly why we're putting them on a custom PCB with thermal spreaders to help dissipate the heat. It also helps us fit more of them in the envelope.

Cheers, Joel (ArduSat developer)

Re:"Hopeful" language (2)

Joel.Spark (2663789) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344801)

In terms of the image memory issue, the image processing won't be done on an Arduino, but by the flight control computer (the design baseline uses a GOMSpace NanoMind 712C), which uses a 2GB SD card for storage until we can downlink it. Our downlink rate is around 4800kbps, so we've estimated a full-res image download time of under a two minutes. We won't be taking live video, because you're right, you can't get the data down fast enough; the cameras will take single still frames.

The GPS we're using isn't a commercial receiver, it's a space-rated version that's flown successfully on previous missions.

The launch will be done on a normal rocket using the standard P-POD deployment, which is priced as low as $0 for educational missions, as high as $60k for private launches, and anywhere in between with partner arrangements.

The advantage of running the code on boards is you can also design apps that need closed-loop control of the satellite, which isn't possible if if you just downlink the data and use it on the ground.

The altitude we'll fly at isn't a perfect vacuum, and there's going to be some pretty interesting things going on with the ionosphere due to the solar maximum next year that we want to be able to have a look at. And the temperature sensors are going to be inside the casing, where there's limited thermal control to give partial isolation from the extremes of open space.

tl;dr I'd be happy to answer more questions about our design, and I'll add yours to our FAQ section on the Kickstarter.

Cheers, Joel (ArduSat developer)

Re:"Hopeful" language (1)

qxcv (2422318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348197)

Thanks for the reply, and also for adding the GPS question to the FAQ - sorry for jumping to conclusions original post, it's just that most things on the Internet which sound too good to be true usually are.

Re:"Hopeful" language (1)

Joel.Spark (2663789) | more than 2 years ago | (#40350851)

Not a problem re: the GPS, people are definitely in the right to ask questions about the design and try and poke holes in it!

Re: too good to be true, that's a problem we're running into a lot (especially on Slashdot!), people being incredulous because it sounds too easy, or thinking it's a scam and because we're doing so much of our outreach in the internet. l actually love it when people who know what they're talking about ask any questions about the design, it gives us to have a real discussion and try and show everyone that this ISN'T just a pipe dream.

Cheers, Joel

spews almost as much as your comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40341725)

suddenly bananas

Re:"Hopeful" language (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40342517)

If you actually visit the kickstarter page instead of the article, you'd get a clearer picture of what they're claiming regarding funding. They want $35,000 to build the satellite (they claim it's already designed, and have a schematic you can download), then they'll apply for free piggyback launches through NASA and ESA programs. (And if they can't get one free within 18 months, supposedly they have a backer willing to pay for a commercial launch.) If they get enough funding from kickstarter, they'll jump straight to paying for a launch (assuring an orbit that will last longer).

Note that they are affiliated with Discover magazine for a contest involving this, so it seems likely that they're the above-mentioned 18-month backer.

Regarding launch slots and payload sizes, this is a CubeSat [] , which are usually launched piggyback with one or more conventional payloads to use surplus launch vehicle capacity. They come in the nominal 10cm cube, and also in 20cm and 30cm long (still 10x10 section) 2U and 3U versions -- if they plan to fit 10 arduinos plus 25 sensors in a 1U package, it's not unreasonable to suppose they could fit 50 and the same sensors in a 3U package. In fact, the kickstarter page (seriously, why are you reading some "tech journalist"'s excitable blatherings, and judging the project based on that?!) explicitly mentions this as well.

Finally, in several other posts, you expressed a belief that AVRs are likely to fail quickly, because they're not space-rated. Again, if you'd read the kickstarter page, you'd see that they've addressed that concern -- they plan to run multiple AVRs in lockstep, with voting to override transient errors (flipped bits). And they consider cumulative damage within the expected lifespan unlikely to be an issue -- and the existing data I'm aware of (such as the thinkpads used on the ISS, and several experiments specifically testing behavior of non-hardened commercial- and/or military-grade electronics) supports their claim.

I'm not saying it's not a scam, and I'd certainly do some more research before donating -- mind, I wouldn't donate in the first place because running 5-10 programs in space is just dumb when you can collect all the same data and run a thousand programs on the ground. But what you've proven is that tech journalists, by and large, are excitable morons with a tenuous grasp of the facts they're reporting and an irrepressible urge to dumb things down for their 6-year old sister, not that the actual people behind this are either hypesters with good intentions and no capability of following through, or outright scammers with no intention of following through.

So I invite you, read the kickstarter page and explain based on what they say why you're still convinced it's a scam, or STFU.

go47 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40341427)

Paranoid conspiracy TRUTH, FOR AAL play 4arties the are there? Oh, much organisation,

Finally! (1)

Grayhand (2610049) | more than 2 years ago | (#40341475)

Now we can find out if there's intelligent life on Earth!

Re:Finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40342541)

Now we can find out if there's intelligent life on Earth!

5 DAMNIT 5 mod up!

Re:Finally! (1)

equex (747231) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344081)

Old joke, will not mod up :(

Kickstarter... (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#40341821)

Yeah, Kickstarter.... I'm sure this'll pan out as well as so many other projects have.

The problem with so many of these Kickstarter projects is that the people asking for money really have no idea what they're doing, and they all seem to think, "If we only had this money..." To do something, like create a product, or in this case, launch a satellite, takes some skill that not everybody has. I wish 'em luck, but I've just spent time looking at a bunch of "coming soon" Kickstarter projects that were fully funded a loooong time ago.

35 grand to launch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40341993)

So how in the world do they plan on orbiting a satellite for 35 grand? The cheapest orbital launchers I can think of are the pegasus and falcon 1 and those each come in at over 10 million.

Re:35 grand to launch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40343781)

So how in the world do they plan on orbiting a satellite for 35 grand? The cheapest orbital launchers I can think of are the pegasus and falcon 1 and those each come in at over 10 million.

piggy-back for free on ESA or NASA.

Advance data available for some sensors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40342173)

I can save some people $500 by giving you the data from some of these sensors now -

Pressure - 0
CO2 - 0
Ozone - 0
Temperature - 0
GPS - Error

I don't think many of the sensors will operate at all, the temperatures are way outside of the operating range. I know the Sparkfun tmp102 sensor pictured only operates down to -40C (TI SOT563 chip).
GPS will not work at the speed or altitude this will fly at.

An awesome opportunity to get rid of $500 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40342205)

this is a truly great educational opportunity.

Why arduino? (2)

Intropy (2009018) | more than 2 years ago | (#40342449)

I mean I have nothing against them. But their advantage is being cheap commodities. The expensive part of space travel is the traveling to space part. Why go cheap on the components?

Re:Why arduino? (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#40342913)

Because they have no idea. Expect a simple arduino to either fry itself due to lack of cooling or to just get stuck in some kind of a watchdog reset loop as it tries to cope with the radiation bombardment of space.

Re:Why arduino? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344391)

The expensive part of space travel is the traveling to space part.

That depends on what you're doing and where you're going. Yeah, for a cheap-ass LEO 'probe' getting there is the expensive part. For a Mars lander or a Jovian orbiter, R&D/engineering dominates the costs, with operations coming in a close second. (If the mission goes long enough, these swap positions.) For any decently sized LEO operation, this is going to be true as well - even at current launch costs.

Why go cheap on the components?

Because it's cool. And that's the core of this whole proposal - coolness over functionality. Edutainment at it's very best.

Re:Why arduino? (2)

Joel.Spark (2663789) | more than 2 years ago | (#40345137)

The point of using Arduinos wasn't to go cheap on components, but to make the actual satellite itself more accessible and easier to write code for. In fact, we're doing the opposite of going cheap in terms of hardware: the guts of the components for the satellite itself (not the payload) are all pretty costly because they're all space-rated (and most of them are space-proven).

The expensive hardware is the whole reason we need the Kickstarter campagin!

Joel (ArduSat developer)

Oh, wow. (1)

danlock4 (1026420) | more than 2 years ago | (#40342551)

A "veritable battery" that is exciting.

Now, if it had a laser weapon onboard (1)

Barsteward (969998) | more than 2 years ago | (#40342901)

we could have some fun with the existence of Gods' wrath in the bible belt, we could make that Harold Camping really wet his pants.........

Arduinos only push 40mA (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 2 years ago | (#40345417)

You're free to build an Arduino-powered laser weapon if you'd like, but you'll have a tough time damaging targets larger than mosquitoes :-)

sensors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40343281)

| 25 sensors including magnetometer, geiger counter, accelerometer, gas sensors
500$ for something that I can simulate is too much, it would be cool if you could use some laser beams,
or high quality cams to spy on people, or make a program that traces you.Anyway

I didn't rtfa but... (1)

k31bang (672440) | more than 2 years ago | (#40345079)

Any chance it has a way to transmit power via microwave from and to the planet? I have some SimCity style "experiments" i need to run. ;-)

Re:I didn't rtfa but... (1)

Joel.Spark (2663789) | more than 2 years ago | (#40350883)

If you managed to wreak SimCity-scale-space-power-damage with the couple of Watts of power it has, I would bow to your awesomeness, sir! (and I think you might get a recruiter from DOD asking for your resume)

Here's the skinny if you don't like link bait (2)

guruevi (827432) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347785)

They work by using pledges:

For a $150 pledge, you can reserve 15 imaging slots on ArduSat. You'll be able to go to a website, see the path that the satellite will be taking over the ground, and then select the targets you want to image. Those commands will be uploaded to the ArduSat, and when it's in the right spot in its orbit, it'll point its camera down at Earth and take a picture which will be then emailed right to you. From space.

-- Great, personal spy pictures. No details on the quality or if it will even work from up there. But at $10 per picture it's fairly affordable. But again, quality is what is going to make or break it.

For $300, you can upload your own personal message to ArduSat, where it will be broadcast back to Earth from space for an entire day. ArduSat is in a polar orbit, so over the course of that day, it'll circle the Earth seven times and your message will be broadcast over the entire globe.

-- Never gonna give you up... and also, what channels will this be using? How can I hear it?

For $500, you can take advantage of the whole point of ArduSat and run your very own experiment for an entire week on a selection of ArduSat's sensors. You know, in space. Just to be clear, it's not like you're just having your experiment run on data that's coming back to Earth from the satellite. Rather, your experiment is uploaded to the satellite itself, and it's actually running on one of the Arduino boards on ArduSat real time, which is why there are so many identical boards packed in there.

-- This would be great but again, no information on the sensors, quality and whether or not I can distribute my data.

Re:Here's the skinny if you don't like link bait (1)

Joel.Spark (2663789) | more than 2 years ago | (#40350963)

- For the pictures, you're absolutely right, the image quality (and pointing accuracy) is what is going to determine if it's worth the $10 an image. We're booking a spot on a high-altitude balloon (about 100,000 feet) in September to test out the payload and cameras, so that people can see the quality and send us feedback. Unfortunately we won't have the results until after the Kickstarter, which sucks because we can't show people the images BEFORE they pledge, but needed to get the funding for the space-heritage hardware early so we'd stand have a better negotiating position for launches, which needs to happen way in advance of the target launch date (first half of 2013).

- In space, no one can hear you trolololololo... For the messages, it'll be broadcast at around 437 MHz, so you can hear it using a HAM radio. We realize not everyone has a HAM radio just chilling on their coffee table, so we're also going to live-stream the audio as heard by our ground station(s) on our website.

- The here's the lists of the sensor packages, I won't put the link to the Kickstarter page (not a good idea to put a lot of links on an anti-linkbait thread!) but I still want to answer the question: [] (for the $500 package) and here: [] (for the $800 package).

- Once you download your data from the satellite, it's all yours, to distribute however you like.

TL;DR = If you want to know more or poke holes in the idea, ask away! I'll this thread daily to answer questions.

Cheers, Joel

Re:Here's the skinny if you don't like link bait (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 2 years ago | (#40351693)

Great response, thanks. I eventually checked out your Kickstarter project and it's a lot better than what the summary or news articles make it out to be.

Not necessarily want to poke holes at it but how much would it cost to get your own set of sensors on there and can the camera (and other devices) be pointed the other way (into space, not towards earth)? What would be really great is if you can get some type of radium clock on there. According to some earth-bound experiments, the sun influences the randomness off radioactive decay so having something in space to test it would be great.

The low cost may be great for a high school science experiment but I think if you shop this idea around some universities, they might be interested.

Also, will these devices be radiation shielded?

Re:Here's the skinny if you don't like link bait (1)

Joel.Spark (2663789) | more than 2 years ago | (#40357573)

Thanks for checking out the page, I appreciate the comment! The nature of the project and the kind of coverage we've been getting is making people (understandably) wary, so I relish the chance to tell people more and show what we've actually doing.

To get your own sensors on there, we're running a competition right now sponsored by Discover Magazine where anyone can suggest ideas for sensors to add to the satellite and what they would do with it if we flew it - if they pick your idea we'd put it up there for free, and Discover buys the person who submitted the idea with a development kit/functional copy of the payload (our $1500 pledge level). I don't want to spam the thread, but the full contest rules are here and can give you more details:

Re: pointing - The sensors and camera can be pointed in any direction, the whole satellite reorients itself using magnetotorquers.

Re: schools - We're trying to chase down a number of schools to see if they want to run low-cost experiments, and I'd really like to see if any university wants to add a hosted payload - depending on what they want to do I think we could probably give them help for pretty cheap.

Re: Radhard - The satellite body gives a little radiation shielding, enough for the Arduinos to survive long enough for the mission (we're aiming for 18 months). The single-event problems we're mitigating by running code on a number of redundant processors simultaneously to filter out random errors, and the mission-critical systems and main computer are all running using rad-hardened components with space heritage.

Cheers, Joel

But.. (1)

dbcad7 (771464) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348711)

What if my experiment is to calculate the trajectory of a satellite to collide into the mouth of an active volcano ?.. I'm thinking after my first test run, it's not going to have much progress.

Re:But.. (1)

Joel.Spark (2663789) | more than 2 years ago | (#40350985)

Hmm, we might need to let a few other people run their experiments first...

A couple people have mentioned thrusters on the thread - sadly, we don't have any propulsion on the satellite, so although you can control the satellite's orientation, kamikaze missions might be a little hard.

Cheers, Joel

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