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Android in Space: Nexus S Controls Robots on Space Shuttle Atlantis

While the Google Nexus S awaits its Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update, NASA is using the device in the final human-manned program on the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

Several Nexus S handsets were sent into orbit on Atlantis in August and are being used in experiments that NASA hopes will lead to implementing robots to complete common tasks instead of astronauts.

"NASA is using Nexus S phones to upgrade a trio of volleyball-sized SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites), originally developed by MIT," said Google in a statement.

"The phones help the robotic satellites perform tasks the astronauts used to do, like recording sensor data and capturing video footage."

Tech website, Phandroid reported that the Nexus S handsets are successful at completing their tasks on Atlantis.

"It appears the experiments using the free-flying SPHERES and the Nexus S continued today as the Expedition 29 crew, who are currently calling the International Space Station home, prepares to dock with an unpiloted Russian cargo ship," wrote Phandroid.

NASA officials said the Nexus S was chosen for the mission due to its easy hardware and software customization.

Android's Open Accessory Development Kit allowed NASA to develop and implement its special programs onto the Nexus S to power the SPHERES.

The Nexus S serves as the "brains, eyes and ears" for the SPHERES, receiving orders, and sending images and data back to Earth, where NASA controls the robots remotely, according to officials.

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