Disposable cameras might be a relic of our past, but they’re still useful! Okay, we’re not talking about those plastic ones you used to buy at Walgreens, but this one is still a throwaway camera. Instead of snapping pics of grandma’s birthday party, the Break Up Camera captures pics in space.
You might be wondering why you’d want a disposable camera in space — and that’s a fair question. The reason is that this one is meant to snap pics during re-entry into our atmosphere, all while it’s falling to pieces in the heat. The pictures themselves are stored in a secure element that can withstand those tough conditions.
The Break Up Camera is currently on-board the Automated Transfer Vehicle 5 (ATV-5), which just docked with the International Space Station (ISS). The ATV-5 is the last cargo ship from the European Space Agency (ESA) to dock on the ISS, and will depart in six months’ time.
When it re-enters our atmosphere, the ATV-5 will fall apart. The Break Up Camera, which is making it’s first and only scheduled mission, will as well, save for the SatCom holding the pictures. That SatCom is basically a ceramic black-box that can withstand the nearly 3,000-degree Fahrenheit heat it will see on re-entry.
The ceramic SatCom will start recording once the camera starts to break apart, and will transmit data to nearby satellites. It ca also record the last 20-seconds of data. To thwart any disruptions in transmission, scientists have placed an omnidirectional antennae on the device to thwart any problems that heat or the rate at which it falls may present.
The ESA says the SatCom will re-enter our atmosphere somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.