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Here’s Your Chance to Scream in Space

The STRaND-1 Smartphone Nanosatellite. Credit: Surry Satellite Technology

The first “Alien” movie was promoted with the celebrated tagline, “In space, no one can hear you scream.” But a group of students want to find out if this is really true, and they’re asking the public for help. Students from the University of Cambridge in the UK will be loading human screams onto a smartphone that will be launched into space in December 2012 on a nanosatellite. The screams will be played at maximum volume while the smartphone is in low Earth orbit, and at the same time as the phone will record the playback to test if it’s possible to capture the sound of screaming in space. They want the best screams possible, and so are inviting the public to submit their screams via video. There will also be public voting on the screams to determine which screams will go to space.

You know you’ve always wanted to do this…..

“Obviously, we’re not expecting to get much back, there may be some buzzing, but this is more about getting young people interested in satellites and acoustics, perhaps encouraging them to consider future study in science or engineering” said Edward Cunningham, a physics undergraduate at Churchill College and one of the members of the Cambridge University Space Flight group (CUSF).

What is actually being tested is verifying the capabilities of a smartphone to control a satellite in space. UK space company Surrey Satellite Technology and their STRaND (Surrey Training Research and Nanosatellite Demonstration) team ran a Facebook competition to find apps to go into orbit – and CUSF’s screaming app was one of the winners. STRaND-1 project is touted as the “World’s first SmartPhone Nanosatellite.”

Here’s a video showing the satellite:

The phone will run on Android’s open-source operating system, and a computer, built at the Surrey Space Centre, will test the vital statistics of the phone once in space. When all the tests are complete, the plan is to switch off the micro-computer and the smartphone will be used to operate parts of the satellite. At its lowest, the phone will orbit 400km above the Earth, roughly the same as the International Space Station.

“Modern smartphones are pretty amazing,” said Shaun Kenyon, the project manager at Surrey Satellite Technology. “We want to see if the phone works up there, and if it does, we want to see if the phone can control a satellite.”

To submit your scream, create a YouTube video and send it in at www.screaminspace.com.

Each video must be at most ten seconds long, and there will be ten winning screams which can be voted for by the public on the project’s website. Screams must be entered before midnight (UTC) on Sunday November 4, 2012. The winning videos will be announced later and loaded onto the phone for launch, which is scheduled before the end of this year.

Other winners in the STRaND-1 project were iTesa, which will record the magnitude of the magnetic field around the phone during orbit, a STRAND Data app will show satellite telemetry on the smartphone’s display which can be imaged by an additional camera on-board, and Postcards from Space and 360, a joint effort with an app that will take images using the smartphone’s camera and use the technology onboard the spacecraft to establish STRaND-1’s position.

Source: University of Cambridge
, Surrey Satellite

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Simon Donaldson October 25, 2012, 8:02 PM

    Am I the only one that couldn’t help but giggle at reading this? Sounds like a lot of fun ^^

  • Slugsie October 26, 2012, 10:16 AM

    For a moment there I was imagining that we could phone up this satellite and yell at it. Now that would be cool.

  • msadesign October 26, 2012, 12:07 PM

    Wasn’t that line about screaming in space actually from a story by Harlan Ellison?

  • 24 hour fitness Columbus OH October 26, 2012, 12:18 PM

    I think it’s possible but it’s not easy.

  • keithnealy October 26, 2012, 9:38 PM

    Seems to me they need two satellites to test this, or at least the listening microphone needs to be ejected from the satellite so that mechanical vibrations aren’t conducted from the speaker to the microphone and picked up as sound. How do they plan to isolate the microphone from the speaker?

  • bablat October 27, 2012, 12:17 AM

    I would use the Wilhelm Scream: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelm_scream

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