Memory Cards

For most data recording applications that you will run into for your mission, a microSD card is going to be the answer. An Arduino microcontroller (with add-on microSD card shield) or a Raspberry Pi computer (microSD reader included) will readily utilize this ubiquitous storage medium.

An extensive review of microSD cards [1] [2] [3] shows that many cards could work, but the Samsung 32GB Class 10 EVO+ card is the best overall choice if you are going to buy a new card. Interestingly, Samsung states that their SD cards are waterproof, temperature proof, X-ray proof, magnet proof (but I wouldn’t take one to a neutron star), and shock proof.[4]

There are many other SD cards brands to choose from, and if you already have one lying around it will probably work fine. Other common SD cards brands that you might find are SanDisk, Lexar, and Kingston. It is still worth looking at the microSD performance results cited above because some cheap cards can be an order of magnitude (i.e., a factor of 10) lower performing.

MicroSD cards tend to include an adapter for full-size SD card readers, which is often stated in the product description but not evident in the product images. You may want to purchase a USB reader for microSD cards [5] anyway because many computers are now foregoing an SD card reader altogether.

Note that “Speed Class” and “UHS Speed Class” SD cards are not compatible with each other. The UHS Speed Class is only for SDXC and SDHC cards, with notably larger capacities.[6]