Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Getting Started with Amateur Satellites and Satellite Mapping

Progress! See Part II.
I'm helping to plan an amateur radio special event on November 5th to raise awareness of the effort by The Friends of Science East to save Tesla's last lab, Wardenclyffe, in Shoreham, NY. One idea for the event is to operate from some of the buildings that Tesla occupied either as labs or as homes in Manhattan. I'm thinking an easy means of operation from there might be satellite. This brings up the interesting question of "which satellites are visible from which rooftops?" I've perused the net a bit and haven't found a program that will display amateur satellite orbits in relation to the NYC skyline, so I decided to plunk around and see if I could come up with my own. So far, I have a list of references I intend to start with and I know what technology I'm going to try to use.

Google Earth is now avaiable on web pages as a JavaScript plugin. I'll be using that as the programming framework. The docs for the portion of the API I plan on using can be found at:
http://code.google.com/apis/earth/documentation/geometries.html


Satellite trajectories are described by Keplerian data. The Keplarian data for amateur satellites is availabe at:
http://www.amsat.org/amsat/ftp/keps/current/nasa.all

Amsat also has an fb explanation of the Keplerian data elements at:
http://www.amsat.org/amsat/keps/kepmodel.html


The author of the site http://www.barnabu.co.uk has already written a great satellite debris tracking framework I'll be using as a code basis. To see more about it, go to:
http://www.barnabu.co.uk/satellite-collision-debris-tracking-in-the-google-earth-plug-in/

For an in-depth description of the algorithms used in the code, check out Wikipedia at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simplified_Perturbations_models

Finally, if you just absolutely positively have to find an amateur satellite right now, then the site you want is the excellent one by N2Y0.

No comments: