We may not think too much about toting our smartphones around; storing them in our pocket, losing it in our purse, or even accidentally leaving it in the car. We often lose site of what kind of technology we're actually carrying with us on a daily basis, but smartphones may be even "smarter" than we think.
NASA's Curiosity rover touched down on Mars Monday, and it may come as a surprise that the computer powering the $2.5 billion machine isn't any smarter than that of your iPhone or Android smartphone; on the contrary actually.
The processor powering the rover is the equivalent of the processor used in the 1997 Powerbook G3 from Apple. It sports a 200 MHz PowerPC 750 CPU. Compare this to the typical smartphone, with a 1GHZ dual core processor, or todays latest MacBook, with a 2.9 GHz Intel Core i7 processor (The Register
). In other words, todays processors are working at an extremely higher efficiency than the one powering NASA's Curiosity.
So with the technology available, especially to an organization like NASA, why is the latest rover running with much slower technology? The system NASA chose has proven to be a much more reliable and needs much less power. Plus, while the latest smartphones are such high-quality, they definitely wouldn't be able to withstand the harsh environment of mars and the constant flow of charged particles hitting its system. It wouldn't be long before the processor was damaged beyond repair. Because of this, NASA has taken the lower-powered processor and built in a BAE RAD750 package, which is meant to harden the processor to withstand radiation from the harsh Mars environment (The Register)
Now, they may not have sent an actual smartphone on a journey into outer space, but that doesn't mean it's not possible! Smartphones have been used by NASA in the past to help improve productivity and there are plenty of plans for them in the future of Aerospace.
Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, a British-based company, is working at the moment on launching smartphone technology into orbit as a satellite for information gathering. Smartphones already contain the necessary communications, tracking and magnetometers needed for orbit, and the British company has said the Android has proven to withstand extreme conditions (Android Authority
Information courtesy of: AndroidAuthority.com, the register.co.uk, wisegeek.com
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