August 26, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra
Everyone seems to be paying a little more attention to space these days. I, for one, am glad about that, and not just because of my recently-developed Star Trek (TNG) addiction. I’ve always been a little interested in space, and whenever I’m reminded of it, I wonder how I could ever let it out of my mind. Perhaps it’s just too big – distractingly big – so big that if we were to walk around acknowledging just how big the universe is (and the corollary: just how small we are), we’d not be able to focus on the day-to-day down here on Earth. Maybe, though, if we maintained a little perspective about how small we are and how little we know, we’d focus some of our day-to-day activities on addressing our unknowing. As a species, we’ve had a long history of curiosity, so I tend to think that the mere awareness of a mystery is the first step in beginning to explore it.
What if space came a little bit closer? What if it could be a part of our day-to-day lives? What if seeing it for ourselves was something we could do for ourselves? Would we want more? I already do. Today’s project wants to bring space a little closer to your life.
Firefly is an open-source, Arduino-compatible microcontroller system that is dramatically driving down the cost of exploration. On-board charging, data-logging and radio communication systems, coupled with an open-source framework of software and hardware makes Firefly a mighty miniature ship’s computer to carry you higher and farther than your two feet can take you on their own.
All exploration projects seem to recreate the first several steps. From battery and charging systems, to data logging and communications, there are countless projects that make all of these systems from scratch.
If you were going to build the next killer web game, would you have your developers start by building their own laptops? Would they solder battery circuits together, and then make their own compiler?
Why do the same with your exploration project?
Skip steps 1 through 9. Start at step 10.
The advent of open-source hardware, open-source software, inexpensive components and a massive network infrastructure to connect people, ideas and resources, the ageless, insatiable hunger to learn and explore has never been easier to feed (and make all the more hungry). There’s more to Firefly than indie astronautics – the applications are limited only by the world’s imagination…which frankly, has a pretty decent track-record. Take your first small steps and help a thousand others start missions of their own – drive down the cost of exploration and help turn everyone into an explorer by backing Firefly on Kickstarter before August 31.