Global positioning systems, processors, cameras, and radios are just a few components the average NASA satellite and the average cell phone have in common. William Marshall describes how NASA is looking into the hypothesis that could help avoid spending millions of dollars in the future plus plant new perspectives on innovation. NASA approved the use of open source hardware and software and Marshall admits this was highly unusual. Some of the challenges Marshall's group took into considerartion included the extreme cold and heat of space, constant radiation bombardment, and the gravity-stress forces of lift-off and stage separation.
According to Marshall some of the measurements for success of this experiment will include sending a photo taken by phone to the mission control area, total parts cost being limited to $10,000, and keeping the phone fully functioning for more than one orbit around the earth. These might seem to be humble goals but if successful, the implications could be enormous. Marshall believes that if this project is successful, among its many results would be dramatically reduced development time scales for NASA.
Will Marshall is based in the Small Spacecraft Office at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California. His work at NASA centres on two areas, low cost satellites and orbital space debris. His two principle projects are: (1) PhoneSat – an ultra low cost satellite bus which leverages smartphone technology; and (2) LightForce – a scheme to remediate the orbital debris challenge using photon pressure to nudge debris to prevent debris-debris collisions. Prior to these projects he helped to develop other small sat missions including: on the science team of LCROSS mission which verified large quantities of water at the lunar south pole; a systems engineer on LADEE mission; and a system’s engineer on the Hover Test Vehicle. He has published over 30 scientific articles (including in Science, PRL, ASR); and has written several op-eds (including in the New York Times).
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