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Virtual telescope on mobile device

Background and Motivation: 

Fast development of the mobile technologies allows to create new services, which help people to address different demands in all spheres of their life. Good examples of such fast growing areas are geo-positioning and navigation services. But humans were always inspired by the star sky and introducing of a new class of astronomy-oriented services might be very well taken by the users. Nowadays there is a few already made Internet services, which address this area (e.g. Google Sky), but having this service on the mobile device is completely different experience.

We can observe stars every night, but not all can distinguish this or that star in a sky. Some teaching program that will use positioning and rotation sensors together with camera to assist user know stars better can be used as for professional training (e.g. airline pilots), or just for fun.

Another application area comes from the fact that for supervision of stars and space objects a special equipment is required that is sometimes inaccessible to all people because of it high cost and difficultly in use.

Project Summary: 

The main idea of this project is to create group of services, which allow all people to get information about stars and different space objects by means of mobile device. This service will give possibility to all its users, situated in different points of Earth, to get images of sky objects, which are needed.

The application “Virtual telescope for mobile devices” is installed on the mobile device and user can point camera of the mobile device to some object on the sky (e.g. star, planet or some undefined object on the sky, about which the user wants to get more information) and the mobile device use Internet connection for downloading images of the corresponding area of the sky, using web resources that publish such photos made by the professional ground-based observatories and even orbital telescopes.

The user location can be calculated by means of GPS-navigation or even based on location of closest GSM based station, as for star sky observation there is no need in too accurate positioning. By means of special sensors (e.g. accelerometer) the information about device’s orientation in space can be computed. With this the application will have complete information about in what point of earth surface the user is located and to what point on the sky the camera of user’s mobile device is pointing. Though Internet this data will be downloaded to some website or server and will be processed. In accordance with processing data server requests photos from ground-based observatories or orbital telescope and transmits result pictures to the mobile device. Also the application might provide the additional possibilities, such as user can get information about some space objects, e.g. name of the object, distance, history and related legends, etc. So the bottom-line we are targeted in a service that will emulate telescope functionality on the mobile device.

List of team members and their organizations: 

Project leader: Alexandra Reyss, student, Petrozavodsk State University
Tutor: Sergey Balandin, principle scientist, Nokia Research Center

Project Timeline and Expected Deliverables: 
  1. The concept of virtual telescope application for mobile devices will be developed and presented at spring FRUCT seminar (by April 2009) and in the best case the draft of concept paper will be also available for evaluation, commenting and publication recommendation.
  2. Implementation of the project application and the corresponding modules for the backend server and mobile device. Partly will be ready and reported at the autumn FRUCT seminar.
Final deadline: 
Friday, April 30, 2010 (All day)