Friday, July 22, 2011

Amateur Satellite Tracking Part III

Part I, Part II. I'm still playing around with building a satellite tracking application. I'm helping with a special event station to help raise awareness for the Friends of Science East's effort to restore Tesla's last lab, Wardenclyffe, in Shoreham, NY.

When reading through the Google Earth API documenation on linestrings, I noticed that they could be 'extruded'. This means that a plane is drawn down from the line to the ground. This seemed like an odd option at the time, but now I see the use for it. It turns out that it's difficult to tilt the view back far enough on Google Earth to see the satellite above from ground level. A wall that extends from the satellite to the ground though? Well, that's a different matter! (See the video below).

There are two next steps. One is to identify the horizon for a satellite. With this information, we can make a sort of automated siting scope to determine if a satellite is worth investigating further. The other thing to finish is making all 61 amateur satellites visible instead of just the one.

Making all 61 satellites visible requires pulling the data from the Amsat site and parsing it correctly. This step is all done and you can see the map with all the satellites at
http://copaseticflows.appspot.com/sattrack

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