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Catching up with Spaceflight screamers

Space App winners, Cambridge University Spaceflight have been busily developing their Scream in Space app to fly on STRaND-1, the smartphone-powered nanosatellite being built by a combined SSTL and Surrey Space Centre team. The team is made up of three members: Edward Cunningham, Jon Sowman and Adam Greig. The three are Cambridge University physics and engineering undergraduates and - like the STRaND-1 team - work on the app in their spare time. The app will test the theory propounded in the 1989 film Alien that "˜in space no-one can hear you scream’ by playing screams in orbit and using the phone’s microphone to record any sound from those 'screams'.
From left to right: Jon Sowman, Adam Greig, Edward Cunningham.
We spoke to team member Edward Cunningham to find out more"¦ Why did you decide to enter the competition? Anything innovative and exciting in regard to space appeals to us. We’ve done work with smartphones before, writing apps to take photos and video and to relay GPS signals when on helium balloons at high altitudes. Putting something in orbit has always been our aim, so STRaND-1 is a good fit. What about STRaND-1 appealed to you? The principle of using a low-cost consumer device to do something high tech and new on a shoestring budget is something we really endorse. We often use readily available materials in our own projects. STRaND-1 is doing something that has never been done before and something you definitely can’t do everyday. We see the project as a great opportunity to promote interest in space and also have some fun! What was the Spaceflight society set up to do? Started in 2006, CU Spaceflight is a society that comes up with experiments and projects worthy of scientific study, but also engaging ways of promoting science to young people. Outreach has always been a big part of what we do. Some of our previous work (e.g. the Teddies in Space project) got school children involved which was exciting and informative for them. We hope that Scream in Space will prompt young people to learn about satellites and acoustics and encourage them to consider future study in science or engineering. How will people get involved this time? Scream in Space is completely dependent on the public’s involvement. After all, we need screams! We’ll ask people to submit their 10 second scream entries online and then have others vote on which clips should be played in space. Videos of the screaming will then be downlinked and put on a website so people can see (and hear?) the results themselves. What do you see as your biggest challenge? We need to adjust the amount of data we want to downlink to the available bandwidth and make sure the phone can easily play video and record audio at the same time. It’s not something you’d usually want to do, so that will require some tweaks. However, once the app is on the phone and the phone is integrated into the satellite, we shouldn’t have any problems. The app should run as if it was on a phone on earth. Even though flying hundreds of kilometres up, for all it knows the phone is in someone’s pocket, there’s just a better view from the camera! Watch this space (blog) for more Scream In Space news!

 

 
 

 

 

08 March 20120 Comments1 Comment

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