Have you ever seen someone else so hard at work on their smartphone that it makes you feel a little embarrassed to be using yours mostly for Angry Birds and YouTube? One of the latest projects we’ve seen for Android devices is enough to make even us feel like smartphone underachievers, where Nexus S handsets were taken on-board the final Space Shuttle mission for use interfacing with space-bound robots.
A pair of Nexus S phones were hooked up to some MIT-designed SPHERES robotic satellites. The Androids used a WiFi connection to the Shuttle to communicate with astronauts and report on sensor data (not like there was any hope of finding a 3G signal).
Why the Nexus S for this project, or even a smartphone in general? Turns out, it’s for some of the same reasons we enjoy them, like relatively high performance compared to their power consumption. The Nexus S in particular was singled-out for being easy to take apart something we don’t usually consider when evaluating a smartphone, but NASA has its own priorities. Beyond that, Android was identified as a platform NASA’s scientists felt was easy to develop code for.
If you’re curious to see the sort of apps were used on these heavenly Nexus S models, the Sensor Data Logger, at least, is available in the Android Market.