What is it?

Track your launch is a web app that integrates with an app running on your android phone going to space. It allows you to track your balloon in real time (as long as there is signal), and uploads your data as soon as it can to allow you to do analysis and aid in the recovery of the payload. Use the map to find your device, track its elevation and sensor readings, and send control signals to get it to abort the mission or play an audio signal to aid location for retrieval. The phone is sending as much data as it can as long as it has signal, and will keep recording the data even when it doesn’t. Alternatively, you can have the app collect the data silently (and send a text message with its landing coordinates), and then upload the data to the site afterward to see the data collected on the graphs.

Can I protect my data?

Why would you want to? All missions are visible to anyone. This is science! You can choose not to upload the data in real time. You will still have access to the data on the phone after you recover the device, and you don’t have to upload it to be able to unzip the data and analyze the results.

I’m really sending a smartphone in the air and letting it fall to earth?

Yes. But here’s why it’s ok:

  1. You’re using an older generation smartphone purchased specifically for this purpose (we hope you’re not using your real phone).
  2. We’ve designed this system so that your phone will be protected as much as possible (though we do not take responsibility for any damage or injuries). It is very likely the phone will survive the trip just fine.
  3. We’ve tested a phone running inside the foam enclosure in -60C temperatures for longer than it would be at those temperatures on the ride, and though the batter got quite low as it got colder, everything worked just fine.
  4. That phone is the smallest and best package for our goals with this payload: light, gps, camera, battery, speaker, and recovery. The phone has it all, and it’s easy to acquire. You couldn’t buy the individual components you need and put it together in a more compact and cheaper package. Plus, we have an app that controls it all.
  5. Smartphones are designed to handle falls better than most other devices, so the equipment will likely handle a drop better.
  6. They’re super light. Putting the individual components into a package and keeping it warm would be a lot more weight and bulk.

Is there aything else I can do with the Android App?

Not really. But feel free to get creative. The source for Apollo67 is available on GitHub

What is the format for the data that the phone collects?

The phone creates a zip file that contains all the images and videos collected during the experiment. The images are named with the timestamp of their creation, and the exif data contains the gps coordinates where the photo was captured as well.

The data collected is included in the zip as a sqlite database that contains a table of data with the timestamp, the sensor that did the collecting, and a JSON string of the data.