Mobile Learning in Space

NASA sends two iPhones into orbit

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NASA lays claim to many firsts in outer space. Undoubtedly, putting the first man on the moon in 1969 is their highlight. But even as recent as the final shuttle launch last week, NASA had another first up its sleeve: sending the iPhone into orbit.

The Atlantis carried two iPhone 4s to the International Space Station (ISS) when it launched its historic STS-135 mission on July 8. Each space-certified phone is equipped with the SpaceLab for iOS app, developed by Odyssey Space Research, and secured on a platform courtesy of NanoRacks.

Astronauts will use the iPhone’s accelerometer, three-axis gyroscopes, and cameras to conduct experiments involving photos of the earth, calibrating measurements, estimating latitude and longitude and monitoring the effects of radiation on the device. All of the procedures are contained within the iPhone itself.

This is mobile learning at its highest level, both figuratively and literally – the ISS fluctuates in altitude around 400 km above Earth.

Earthly users can download the app to replicate tests though some of them will have to be simulated due to gravitational differences.

The iPhones are expected to return to Earth on a Russian Soyuz as early as this fall when researchers will collect and analyze the data before sharing it as part of the app.

We think the iPhones will be put on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum when they come back. We’re curious to know your thoughts, so tell us: Where do you think the phones will wind up? And what do you think this means for mLearning?

Sources:
NASA: First iPhone Flying on Last Shuttle
Download SpaceLab for iOS from the App Store
Mac Rumors: Final Space Shuttle Lifts Off with Two iPhones Aboard
Odyssey Space Research: SpaceLab for iOS

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Adam Bockler is the communications manager for Float, responsible for all of Float's marketing initiatives. In addition, Adam is a certified DDP Yoga Level 1 instructor, a certified personal trainer, a martial arts instructor, and a graduate of the Black and Brave Wrestling Academy.

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On July 11, 2011
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