The Ultrascope is a 3D printed mini-observatory capable of letting users capture images of outer space using a smartphone.
The robotically-controlled device – built by Microsoft and the Open Space Agency (OSA) – allows users to adjust the angle of the Ultrascope via a relay system to the ISS orbital location data cloud using a Windows laptop. The information is sent through the cloud and processed as scientifically usable data.
James Parr, the man behind the Ultrascope idea and the founder of the OSA, says the project "opens up opportunities for people who have been gazing at the stars their whole lives, but haven't, until now, been able to get involved."
At a relative svelte three-feet tall in its fully vertical position and slightly more than two feet wide at the base, Parr says the device is not only compact, but that he believes hundreds of Ultrascopes will ultimately be built by enthusiastic amateurs.
If you'd like to build your own version of the telescope, you can sign up for a beta program which allows access to the file you'll need. Once you're in, 3D printer and laser cutter templates are available for download.
Parr says blueprints for increasingly sophisticated models of the Ultrascope will be released over the course of the next year and a half, and that there are plans for a fully-functioning consumer version sometime in the next few years.
Microsoft and the Open Space Agency say the automated robotic observatory was designed by a collective of passionate and amateur designers, engineers and scientists from around the world who dedicate their free time to the exploration of space.
The Explorer Series Ultrascope features a 3.5 Inch mirror ARO to accomplish its celestial photography and photometry mission driven by an Arduino microcontroller and a Lumia 1020 smartphone with a 41 Megapixel CCD.