Scientists have built a Google Nexus One smartphone into a satellite due to launch into space on 25 February. Barring software changes, the Android phone is completely unmodified and will be used in the heart of the orbiting spacecraft during its six-month mission.

The 5-megapixel camera will be the only part exposed, as it will be used to take pictures of Earth and the Moon. And the satellite, at least initially, will be controlled by a Linux-based cubesat computer developed by the Space Science Centre, part of the University of Surrey.

The project, dubbed STRaND-1 (after Surrey Training, Research & Nanosatellite Demonstrators), has been put together by the SSC and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited in order to test how everyday consumer electronics react to the conditions of space. The team hopes to hand control of the satellite over to the Android device as long as everything goes well.

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The 5-megapixel camera pokes out from the STRaND-1's body

"We haven't gutted the Nexus," lead engineer Dr Chris Bridges told the BBC. "We've done lots and lots of tests on it; we've put our own software on it. But we've essentially got a regular phone, connected up the USB to it and put it in the satellite.

"This is about looking at the latest technologies that are out there and seeing whether they are up to the harsh challenge of space."

The STRaND-1 satellite will be launched from India.

Mind you, this is not the first time that a 'droid or two has been launched into space. Let's just hope its adventure isn't quite so dramatic.

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