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Posts Tagged ‘Iridium 33’

Knee Deep in Satellite Debris

March 1st, 2009 No comments

Click to view the live satellite debris tracker

A quick update on the Google Earth browser plugin based tracker displaying the debris from the collision between the Iridium 33 and Cosmos 2251 satellites on February 10th.

I mentioned the possibility that the number of fragments tracked in the Norad orbtial elements might increase. Well they have. Threefold over the past week, from 134 up to 406.

Remarkably the application still smoothly animates all objects in real time, even on my single core PC, but inevitiably it sucks up more processing power. You may find it now lags on an old machine or slower browser. If the number increases further I may have to either cap the number displayed or ditch the smooth animation.

Anyway, click on the image above to see it in action.

Related: Here’s a neat simulation from Analytical Graphics which includes a statistical break-up model of the satellites immediately after impact.

Satellite Collision Debris Tracking in the Google Earth Plug-in

February 23rd, 2009 5 comments

Live Satellite Debris TrackerFollowing on from my visualization of the satellite collision over Siberia on February 10th involving Iridium 33 and Cosmos 2251, here’s an Google Earth browser plugin based tracker for the debris from the crash.

Full screen version here: http://barnabu.co.uk/geapi/debris

The application loads up to date Norad orbital elements on start up, and propogates the orbits of all 134 fragments smoothly in real time.

Remarkably the Google Earth API is powerful enough to move placemarks thousands of times a second to give the impression of completely smooth motion for hundreds of objects. On top of that modern browsers are fast enough to run all the Math heavy orbital computation in Javascript. So this is really-real-time tracking, not with delayed updates. Something that can’t be done in regular Google Earth.

I’m guessing the number of objects could increase over time as more wreckage is discovered. If that’s the case, just have to see how well it scales.

When two satellites collide, in Google Earth

February 12th, 2009 No comments

Satellites Colliding in Google Earth

Satellites Colliding in Google Earth

This is a quick Google Earth timeline animation of the recent satellite collision between the Russian Cosmos 2251 and the US iridium 33.

Update 2009-02-14: Two ways to view this now.
– A Google Earth browser plug-in version
– Or the original KML file for regular Google Earth below

Cosmos 2251 and Iridium 33 Collide

Use the time slider at the top of the screen to play the file back. The animation tracks the objects during the 6 minutes leading up to impact. Also included are the orbital paths (ground tracks) of the two objects between 16:00 and 17:00 GMT on February 10th.

Location data is based on the orbital elements for the two satellites, from Celestrak.