The three phonesats launched piggyback on Antares several weeks ago beamed down images of Earth that have now been released.
The three cube-shaped satellites were launched on Sunday, April 21, 2013 atop Orbital Science Corporation’s Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia. The three satellites were all built around a standard cubesat frame about four inches (10 cm) square, with a larger, external lithium-ion battery and a radio powerful enough to reach Earth. The smartphone components not only provided cameras for snapping pictures of the Earth, but also acted as the spacecrafts’ avionics for maintaining attitude control.
In keeping with the PhoneSat’s mission’s goal of getting into space on a budget, the images were transmitted back to Earth in the form of image-data packets that were received not just by NASA’s Ames Research Center but also by amateur radio operators around the world, who volunteered their services to collect 200 of these packets.