Those crazy geniuses at Google are at it again with some "high-tech" shenanigans... this time, quite literally. The folks at Mountain View, along with some University of California at Santa Cruz students, attached seven Nexus S phones to weather balloons and launched them 32,000 meters, to the edge of space! Besides being an amazingly cool publicity stunt, it will apparently be quite educational as well. Their primary intention was to test the durability of the phones and test the info gathering abilities of the different sensors within the "space-phones". Furthermore, they hoped to see how well the phones' sensors deal with the freezing temperatures.

To create these smart-phone "starships" they used styro-foam beer coolers (mmmm... beer...) and dedicated GPS modules to assist in the recovery, once the sub-orbital travelers return to earth. According to this article over at, "If all goes well, once the craft return to earth, the team will read accelerometer, gyroscopic, and compass data to calculate the forces that the payloads experienced. The phones will also be running a number of apps including SkyMaps, an augmented reality star-gazing program that shows which stars would be in the sky, given the phone's position and orientation."

The launch was a success and most of the phones reached higher than the 32,000 meter goal, at which point the balloons popped (as was expected), and then it took between 20-30 minutes for the "space-phones" to achieve crash-down. So far, they have recovered all but one of the phones. Of the phones recovered they all were undamaged and still functioning. It will be interesting to see what sort of adventures the missing "astronaut" has experienced. Check out the cool video below.

New Scientist Standalone Player

by dgstorm