SpaceLab for iOS is in an app we developed to work with Apple’s iOS on iPhone® 4 in order to perform experiments onboard the U.S. National Laboratory on the International Space Station (ISS). The SpaceLab for iOS app was transported to the ISS on two, space certified iPhone® 4’s on the historic final mission of the Space Shuttle program, STS-135, on the orbiter Atlantis.
Four experiments were developed. The experiments contain embedded step-by-step instructions to allow a crew member to conduct the experiments without the need for supplementary paper procedures.
Limb Tracker – This navigation experiment involves taking photographs of the Earth and matching an arc to the horizon through manipulation of an overlay. This performs the function roughly equivalent to a “manual” horizon sensor. It yields an estimate of altitude (height above the surface) and “off-axis” angle, a measurement of the angle of the image with respect to the Earth’s center.
Sensor Cal (Calibration) – This sensor calibration experiment uses a series of photos of a reference image (QR barcode), combined with propagated information using three-axis gyro and accelerometer measurements to calibrate the gyros and the accelerometers (i.e. bias and scale coefficients). This improves the knowledge and accuracy of subsequent measurements and helps overcome inaccuracies that may have been introduced during launch.
State Acq (Acquisition) – This navigation experiment uses a series of photos of both a reference image and the Earth, combined with information from the three-axis gyro and accelerometer, to estimate the position of the spacecraft (latitude and longitude). The position estimate is generated by manipulating and matching a wireframe overlay of the Earth’s coastlines to the acquired Earth image(s). Performing multiple sequences, separated by a known amount of time, can permit estimation of the spacecraft’s orbit parameters.
Lifecycle Flight Instrumentation (LFI) – This experiment characterizes the effects of radiation on the device by monitoring certain areas of memory for Single Bit Upsets – an unintended change in value of a memory location caused by exposure to radiation.
iPhone® 4 was certified for spaceflight and was transported to the ISS on the space shuttle via NanoRacks, LLC of Houston, Texas. NanoRacks provides low-cost hardware and integration services for the U.S. National Laboratory onboard the ISS. Both iPhone® 4’s remained on the ISS for several months where the experiments were conducted by the crew. The data was acquired and stored on the devices for analysis upon their return to Earth.
When the experiments were completed, both iPhones® were returned to Earth on the Russian Soyuz 28S (TMA-22) in April 2012 and then transported to Houston. Flight data from the experiments were collected and are currently undergoing analysis. Our goal is to share the data and results in the future via this app on the App Store℠.
The app is available for download on the App Store℠ so that ground based users can get a sense of experience and tasks to be performed by crew members on the ISS. Some features are simulated to account for the presence of gravity.
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