NASA has sent three smartphones into space, mostly just to see what will happen. Three HTC Nexus Ones are circling the Earth at an altitude of 150 miles after being launched into orbit on Sunday. The PhoneSats, or smartphone nanosatellites, are taking photos of the Earth from space.
So why are there phones floating around space taking pictures? For science! But really. The phones are part of a program that aims to eventually build satellites for less than $10,000, and NASA wants to see if these smartphones could be the "brains" of the satellites, the Los Angeles Times reports. It's unclear why NASA chose the Nexus One for the mission, since it's a pretty old one that is no longer produced.
Whether you were aware of it or not, this isn't the first time NASA has sent smartphones into space. In 2011, NASA sent two iPhone 4's up to the International Space Station. The iPhones were sent into space in collaboration with Odyssey Space Research and Apple. The iPhone 4 was chosen "for its mix of features," Odyssey CEO Brian Rishikof said. The iPhones were sent to the station to see how they would function outside of Earth. Since then, NASA has moved on to Android.
Unfortunately for anyone who would like to use a phone that's been in space, the phones are definitely going to burn up when they re-enter the Earth's atmosphere.