Somebody must desperately need the answer to the old Alien film tagline ‘In space no one can hear you scream’. That's just one of the objectives researchers from the University of Surrey are trying to achieve (per the BBC News Feb. 25, 2013). The team has fashioned a satellite (Strand-1) with a Google Nexus phone. Pre-recorded screams will be played from the satellite to monitor if the smartphone can pick them up. But the concept of sending satellites to space equipped with smartphones is not new (see the video attached to this article).
Why the fuss over listening to sounds in space? Acoustics (or the theory of acoustics) "supposes" that waves such as sound must propagate through a medium built of some form of matter. For the ear and other sound-detecting devices the typical medium is air. So could you still hear or detect a sound in the "perfect vacuum" of space? The experiment uses the Google Nexus phone and the speakers. But where and how are the recorded screams played to this purpose? Cambridge University Space Flight created an app for that - the Scream in Space app.
That was sort of a "citizen science" project but it's too late to enter your screaming video - the app, the Nexus phone and satellite launched yesterday (same date as the BBC News story). The social media is also involved - you can track the satellite and it's science and achievements on Twitter. You can also follow on Scream in Space on Twitter. No tweets have been posted on the conclusion of these momentous experiments or on the CUSF page at this time.
About the headline video: the Mashable video was posted by Grab Media on Aug. 26, 2012 and was presented by Adam Falk. The commentary regarded the PhoneSat 1.0 and 2.0 missions planned by NASA to use smartphones on nanosats. We searched NASA's webpage on nanosats and saw that the PhoneSats are/were to launch "early 2013". It looks like the need to know if sound propagates via screams in space on the Strand-1 satellite may have won this "phone satellite race". At least we should finally know if screams can be heard in space (by smartphones).