This time Google, in its journey of exploration, has sent its Nexus S to the near space to collect some interesting data about the sensors in Nexus S – GPS, gyroscope, accelerometer, and magnetometer, said a Google blog post.
Recently, Google has sent seven Nexus S devices into the near space over 100,000 feet above Earth.
The Google team behind the mission traveled to Lone, Calif., and sent these seven payloads through homemade weather balloons.
“These phones were running a variety of apps: Google Maps for Mobile 5.0 (with offline map data) which allowed us to see what was directly below the balloon, Google Sky Map to see if we could identify the real stars in the backdrop, Latitude to report location when the phones had a data connection, and our own custom sensor logging app that sampled all the available sensors on the device,” said Zi Wang, Captain of Google's Mission Android in the blog post.
To send the little android commanders into the near space, the team worked with UCSC student Greg Klein to prepare each of the payloads with foam coolers. Since, Android platform provides a strong development environment and Nexus S achieves a great set of fixed sensors, it helped the team to write the apps they needed for the mission.
“We secured a nylon load line to the cooler and attached to it a radar reflector, a parachute, and finally, a weather balloon. Every payload had an APRS transmitter attached to a GPS that was known to work at high altitudes, as well as batteries for power. The remainder of each payload was different for each balloon: some had digital cameras taking pictures and some had video cameras mounted at various angles (up, down, and at the horizon),” said Wang.
Through the mission, the payloads collected many interesting data and reached high altitudes of 107,375 ft., over 20 miles high or over three times the height of an average commercial jet.
“In tracking the sensors on each of the phones, we observed that the GPS in Nexus S could function up to altitudes of about 60,000 ft. and would actually start working again on the balloon’s descent. We also saw that Nexus S could withstand some pretty harsh temperatures (as low as -50?C),” said Wang. “By analyzing all the collected data, we were able to find some interesting trends. For instance, we determined the speed and altitude of the jet stream: about 130mph at 35,000 ft,” he said.