Day 190: Spacing Out

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July 8, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra

Yes, yes, yes, it’s time to think about space once again.  It might seem silly to be so hung up on off-world activity when so little of what happens out there has anything to do with life down here, but someday, we’re going to be going boldly outward toward the stars and it’ll be a fascinating, exciting, profound and cool adventure.  I hope that day comes soon – soon enough for me to see it – perhaps even to live it.  But even before leaving the third rock in favor of another (or perhaps no rock at all), there’s still a lot we can do in our own orbital neighborhood; in fact, today’s project is giving us (as in you and I) more power than ever before to widen our gaze over the world and universe around it.

ArduSat is, to my knowledge, the first orbital, open-source experiment platform.  Loaded with sensors, cameras, thrusters and microcontrollers, the bite-sized satellite will provide the means to test and explore a thousand-and-one (probably more) of the world’s extraterrestrial questions.

We want to get you into space! Once launched, the ArduSat (Arduino – satellite) will be the first open platform allowing the general public to design and run their own space-based applications, games and experiments, and steer the onboard cameras to take pictures on-demand.

What would I do with a satellite?” you might ask.  You might have a few ideas already, especially if you’re the sort of person who spends a lot of time looking skyward on dark nights, or watching cloud formations build overhead, or maybe if you’re just a nosy neighbor, but with more than 25 sensors on board and an ongoing Ideas Page, the ArduSat team is building a mini space-lab to gather data from more than 300 miles in the sky.

This project is of such immense coolness that the team has shattered their funding goal so thoroughly as to consider developing either a super-sized ArduSat with even more sensors, or double the fun with two ArduSats to answer spacey questions, take amazing pictures and even play silly space games (see the Entertainment section of the Ideas Page).  This project is counting down to liftoff, and you have until July 15 to buy yourself some time aboard the ArduSat before it hits the sky.


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