OnQ Blog

Snapdragon processors in (near) space

Qualcomm Snapdragon processors launch SnapSatOne of the more than 700 photos taken by the SnapSat.

Qualcomm® Snapdragon processors can be found pretty much anywhere – even 97,000 feet above Earth. Qualcomm Technologies engineer Gene Swiech and five University of Texas students recently sent a Snapdragon S4 Plus processor-based DragonBoard™ to near space to prove it could be done.

With Swiech’s help, the students created a CubeSat – a miniature satellite that typically uses off-the-shelf electrical components to collect data – that they dubbed “SnapSat.” The satellite was created with the powerful DragonBoard Development Kit, which includes a carrier board and system on a module (SOM).

DragonBoard is a building block for creating products incorporating the Snapdragon application processor. It’s also used for developing, testing and optimizing sensors, displays and other hardware components, embedded products.

The 10-cm-square SnapSat was launched near Phoenix, Arizona last November via a high-altitude weather balloon filled with hydrogen. Students were aided by the Arizona Near Space Research (ANSR) organization, a nonprofit that promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education through amateur radio and high-altitude balloons.

Qualcomm Snapdragon Dragonboard launched into space

The students configured the DragonBoard to collect GPS data, and the SnapSat was packaged in a Styrofoam cooler for protection. It reached 97,000 feet and survived g-forces, minus 60-degree temperatures and no atmosphere while snapping a photo every 11 seconds with the DragonBoard’s 8 MP camera. More than 700 images had been collected by the students when the SnapSat returned to Earth. You can view all of the images in sequence in this clip:

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*The Dragonboard is a product of Instrinsyc.