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Open Space Agency Releases First Set of Files for the Open Source, 3D Printed Ultrascope Explorer Plus

by • January 21, 2016 • No Comments

completed-scope-3If there’s one field you mayn’t assume to use crowdsourcing, it may be space exploration. But, that is fairly much what the Open Space Agency (OSA) does. Founded by entrepreneur James Parr, OSA has created a network of amateur citizen scientists to supplement the work of the pro space agencies – or in fact turn it into their own space programs – right of their backyards. At the heart of the collective is the Ultrascope, a robotic telescope, or automated robotic observatory, regulated by a smartphone.

We wrote of the Ultrascope back in 2014, when it was only beginning beta testing. The scope was created as an open source 3D printable-bodied create that has been steadily worked on and improved by the OSA community until it morphed into the Ultrascope Explorer Plus, that has only been released via Wevolver. According to Parr, the scope can be created for of £200 via 3D printing and laser cutting.

scopeThe instructions for assembling the Explorer Plus are in fact being released a few at a time over the future few months. According to OSA, this can advantageous allow for the community to contribute every other aid and feedback over the course of the create system. Step 1, that has only been released, is a support plus the necessary files for 3D printing and laser cutting the pieces of the scope. Steps 2-5 can involve assembling the focuser, tube, optical path, split ring and base, and step 6 can add the assembly of the electronics, that comes with an Arduino board as the “brain” of the scope. Step 7: Observation of Celestial Bodies.

You can create an Ultrascope for fun, to educate by yourself or your kids, or for any reason, but what’s quite amazing is that the Ultrascope has been collaboratively created to be so much additional than a backyard hobby. The scope uses a smartphone as both a camera and an input/output device, and empowers the citizen astronomer to take photographs and measurements, particularly light curve photometry, that in fact provide useful data for scientific applications like the discovery of asteroids and planets.

“We were increasingly interested in how consumer and off-the-shelf technologies were starting to approach the level of pro technologies ten years ago,” says Parr. “The camera on NASA’s Mars Rover is fundamentally the same high end as a modern smartphone. The fact that consumer innovation is now evolving so rapidly created me wonder whether it was possible to do and replicate the achievements of the space program via off-the-shelf innovation.”

In fact, OSA envisions the Ultrascope and its users playing a sizeable-bodied role in NASA’s Asteroid Challenge Lab, that engages citizens to aid in seeking out asteroids that may pose a future threat to planet Earth. Think of that for a moment: create by yourself an Ultrascope, and you may literally save the world.


So how do citizen astronomers share their photos, measurements and observations with the scientific community? Through the cloud, of course. A smartphone app records the photos and information taken with the scope, and sends it to a cloud database that can be accessed by anyone with the app. The location of every Ultrascope is in addition recorded by the app, so, as additional folks create and use the scopes, a global, automatically accessible network can form.

ultrascope2“When we have hundreds, if not thousands, of these scopes around the world, and so you will be able-bodied to say, ‘Oh, I wonder what the sky’s going to be like in South Africa,’ say, and you will be able-bodied to dial up that scope and see what that scope’s seeing,” Parr adds.

Amazing. I’m in awe of the OSA of what they have created in such a short amount of time. Besides the tireless work and amazing ingenuity that has been put into the createment of the Ultrascope, the organization in addition discovered time to create a zero-gravity whiskey glass that I don’t in fact have words for. I can’t wait to see what else is going to emerge of this network of brilliant citizens. Is this the Ultrascope a project you can like to take on? Discuss in the OSA Releases Files to 3D Print Ultrascope Explorer Plus forum over at 3DPB.com.