Global science project connects Android phones to satellites to improve weather forecasts

Thanks to this app developed for Android users, collecting satellite data for research is a community effort. camaliot is a campaign funded by the European Space Agency, whose first project focuses on getting smartphone owners around the world part of a project that can help improve weather forecasts by using your phone’s GPS receiver.

the Camaliot app works on running devices Android version 7.0 or higher that support satellite navigation. Just as satellite navigation works, phones or other receivers look for signals from a network of satellites that maintain a fixed orbit. The satellites send messages with the time and their location, and once received, the phones record how long each message took to arrive and then use that data to work out where on Earth they are.

Researchers think they can use satellite signals to get more information about the atmosphere. For example, the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere can affect how a satellite signal travels through the air to something like a phone.

The app collects information to track the signal strength, the distance between the satellite and the phone you are using, and the carrier phase of the satellite. according to Camaliot’s FAQs. With enough data from around the world, researchers can do this Theoretically, combine this with existing weather data to measure long-term water vapor trends. You hope so Use this data to inform machine learning weather forecast models. You can also track changes in Earth’s ionosphere — the part of the atmosphere closest to space. Making better ionospheric forecasts could be relevant track space weather and could eventually make global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) more accurate by accounting for events like geomagnetic storms.

Camaliot could eventually be expanded to include further attempts at collecting data at scale using sensors present in connected home devices with the “Internet of Things”. “We were inspired by the famous SETI@Home initiative, where home laptops help find signs of extraterrestrial life.” Vicente Navarro, an ESA navigation engineer, it says in a press release.

App users can compare their measurements with other Android users
Image: Camaliot

The project aims to gather information from around the world – and from several different satellite constellations. There are different constellations of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), such as the US Global Positioning System (GPS), Russia’s GLONASS, China’s Beidouor the Galileo of the EU. Japan and India also operate smaller regional constellations. A FCC order in 2018 enabled more devices to use GPS and Galileo signals together to increase location accuracy.

While older Android phones can participate in this project, the Camaliot project is lists more than 50 newer models with dual-frequency receivers that can simultaneously pull two GNSS signals with different satellite frequencies. Phones confirmed to include dual-frequency receivers include the Google Pixel 4a, Samsung Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Ultra – mainly those with high-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 5G chipsets.

Navarro says that “the combination of Galileo’s dual-band smartphone receivers and Android’s support for recording raw GNSS data” work together to increase the possibility of how much data can be collected from just people using their smartphones.


Camaliot is only available for Android users
Image: Camaliot

The use of home tech by external participants for scientific exploration continues to increase as everyday devices have more computing power and better sensor capabilities. Besides the famous SETI project and similar attempts like folding@home, other methods are included NASA is urging the public to use their cellphones to photograph clouds or treesand science apps like iNaturalist, which document animal behavior during a solar eclipseor Tracking of different animal species.

How to use Camaliot?

This is how you can use the Camaliot app on your Android phone afterwards download from Google Play:

  1. Select “Start Recording” and place your phone somewhere with a clear view of the sky to begin recording data
  2. When you have measured to your liking, select “Stop Recording”
  3. Then upload your session to the server and repeat the process over time to collect more data. You can also delete your locally stored log files in this step.

Not only can you compare your own measurements with others that have accumulated over time, but you can also view a ranking of other participants’ logging sessions. Eventually, the information collected for the study will be available on a separate portal.

For registered users, their password, username, email address and number of measurements will be stored in Camaliot’s database, but will not be used in post-study publications and products, it said Camaliot Privacy Policy. In particular, Camaliot says that there is a need for large amounts of personal data for scientific purposes and environmental monitoring, and that the need for data processing is “necessary for the performance of a task in the public interest, which is to carry out this scientific study. ”

Registered participants will also be entered into a pool to win prizes such as a dual frequency Android phone and Amazon vouchers. The campaign runs until June 30th. Global science project connects Android phones to satellites to improve weather forecasts

Fry Electronics Team

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