Have you ever read a space science textbook and wondered about things we haven’t explored or begun to understand about space? Have you ever dreamed of running a space experiment of your own? Well, now you have that opportunity!
A group called NanoSatisfi has just launched a Kickstarter fundraiser to launch an Arduino-powered satellite into space. Dubbed “ArduSat,” the goal is to be the first open platform allowing the general public to design and run their own space-based applications, games and experiments, as well as take pictures, and broadcast messages back to Earth.
The satellite itself will be tiny: a miniature cube, measuring 10 x 10 x 10 cm, and weighing roughly 1 kg. It will pack quite a sensory punch, however: plans call for more than 25 sensors, including a Geiger counter, a spectrometer, a magnetometer, and three cameras. (If you want to geek out on the payload details, subscribe to the YouTube channel). The sensors will be connected to user-programmable Arduino processors, on which applications and experiments will be run.
The project is well-designed. You’ll be able to write your experiment or application code from scratch, or make use of snippets and templates available online. Then you’ll be able to upload your code via web-based interface to an ArduSat replica on the ground, to run real-time tests, before uploading them to the real one in space.
If the chance to run your own experiments in space weren’t incentive enough, NanoSatisfi has lined up a number of partners offering some cool perks. Discover Magazine is running a challenge for the most innovative experiment, game or application run on ArduSat, with the prize being Team Development Kit worth $1500. People who contribute to the Kickstarter fundraiser will not only get to reserve time on the satellite, but will get extras like magazine subscriptions and sensor suites. Big time backers will get things like crash course in nanosatellite development, and a Skype chat with NASA astronaut Dr. Story Musgrave.
The funding window is only open until July 15, 2012, so get over to the site now to contribute.