Posts Tagged ‘earth’

Collision Aftermath (Wash Post)

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

[Editor's note: Last week's collision of two satellites added to a growing list of "junk" polluting the envelope around our planet with the flotsam and jetsam of our satellite-dependent civilization. The rubbish is increasingly a hazard for human spaceflight and has put important equipment such as the Hubble Space Telescope and communications satellites at risk of being struck by an object moving at hypervelocity. This graphic from Patterson Clark shows where the collision occurred in relation to important platforms.]

Republished from The Washington Post.
Originally published: 13 February 2009.
Graphic by Patterson Clark.

Two satellites smashed together Tuesday, creating a spreading cloud of space junk that slightly increases the chance that other spacecraft could be damaged by the debris.

Related article from Wired: Lost in Space: 8 Weird Pieces of Space Junk


SOURCES: NASA; Union of Concerned Scientists; staff reports

Related article: Satellite Collision Adds to ‘Space Junk’ Problem

By Joel Achenbach

Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 14, 2009; Page A03

Satellite 33442 orbits Earth every 91 minutes, circling at an inclination of 56.1 degrees to the equator and gradually slowing down, destined to fall into the atmosphere in late spring or summer and burn up. Aficionados of satellites know that 33442 is a tool bag. A spacewalking astronaut let it slip last year, adding one more tiny, artificial moon to the junk in low Earth orbit.

The military has a running catalog of more than 19,000 pieces of orbital debris. This week, the census of space schmutz suddenly jumped by 600 — the initial estimate of the number of fragments from Tuesday’s stunning collision of two satellites high above Siberia.

Space is now polluted with the flotsam and jetsam of a satellite-dependent civilization. The rubbish is increasingly a hazard for human spaceflight and has put important equipment such as the Hubble Space Telescope and communications satellites at risk of being struck by an object moving at hypervelocity.

(more…)

Google Outs Earth 5 with Ocean Floor, More (Electronista)

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

UPDATE: Be cautious about installing GE 5 on your Mac. Wired has the details . . .

[Editor's note: New 3d ocean floor elevation data, historical land imagery, ability to record virtual tours, and 3d planet Mars mode come to Google Earth in version 5 released Monday, Feb. 2, 2009.]

Republished from Electronista / MacNN.
Google’s LatLong blog has official coverage: Historical Imagery and Ocean elevation data.

Download version 5 from Google for Mac, Windows, and Linux.

Google on Monday announced the immediate release of Google Earth 5.0, bumping it up from the previous 4.3 build. Among the biggest changes are the inclusion of a detailed 3D ocean floor, the ability to go up to 50 years back in time when looking at a particular location, record a virtual tour of locations, and a 3D rendition of Mars. The ocean feature was developed together with many partners, including National Geographic, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the US Navy, among others. The approximate two-thirds of the planet can now be viewed under water and includes videos and images of ocean life, along with details on surf spots, expedition logs and more. The historical images are accessed via a clock icon on the toolbar when viewing a location on the planet. The Touring feature lets travelers show off their journeys by recording navigating through their destinations and easily sharing them with peers. The fly-throughs can be narrated for an organized flow of a multi-stop journey.

Thanks to a joint project with NASA, Google Earth now also extends beyond to include a 3D map of Mars. Apart from 3D terrain, there are annotations describing the location and circumstanced associated with landing sites and the red planet’s other curiosities.

The download is free for both Mac and Windows PCs. Comprehensive information on the new features of Google Earth will be published throughout the week on Google’s Lat Long blog.

Using Wii Balance Board to Fly Through Google Earth (Google)

Friday, January 16th, 2009

[Editor's note: And here I thought the Wii was just for bowling, lol.]

Republished from Google Lat Long blog.
Thursday, January 8, 2009 at 1:56 PM

This year for Macworld I decided to create a program that allows people to “surf” any region on the Earth’s surface using a Nintendo Wii Balance Board and the Google Earth API.  To do this, I used the Google Earth Browser Plug-in with a Javascript API.  The Wii Balance Board transmits the your movements to the Earth Surfer application using Bluetooth and allows you to maneuver a virtual milk truck by shifting your balance as if you were on a surfboard.

Check out the following video to see it in action:

While it’s fun to use Earth Surfer, I really wrote it to inspire others to write their own programs. It’s all open source using the Apache License, so you can use the code in your own programs, even commercial ones.

It is based on Thatcher Ulrich’s terrific Javascript Monster Milktruck demo, which is an open source program on a webpage. I wrapped it as a Macintosh application program so I could add Objective-C.  Objective-C uses the Macintosh Bluetooth support to decode the Bluetooth packets from the Wii Balance Board. The Balance Board support is my work. I based that on DarwiinRemote, open source decoders for the Wii Remote.
Earth Surfer and its source code will be available next week on the Google Mac Developer Playground.

Another amusing hack for surfing in Google Earth.

Panorama, Peak Identification And Viewsheds In Google Earth (Free Geography Tools)

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

free geo tools logo[Editor's note: This is the website for the "Hey, What's That" tool featured in the Where iPod app reviewed in this blog last week.]

Reprinted from Free Geography Tools blog (posted there March 14, 2007).

OgleEarth posts about Hey, What’s That?, a website that lets you enter a location and then gives you:

  • A panorama of what’s visible from that location, marking the position of peak geographic landmarks
  • A list of the peaks, and the ability to show their position relative to your location on Google Maps
  • Terrain profiles (elevation versus distance from the location to any point on the map)
  • A plot all the areas visible from that location in red on Google Maps (aka the “viewshed” or “weapons fan”)
  • Contour lines (zoom in for these)
  • Google Earth export of position, viewshed, horizon line and horizon extent. If the viewshed area is large, this might strain the memory capacity of lesser systems.

It uses 30-meter SRTM version 1 data for its calculations, so there may be some quirks depending on whether there are holes in the SRTM coverage for your area. They’re switching over to SRTM version 2 soon, which is better but still not perfect. It only works in the US right now, but according to OgleEarth, they hope to expand coverage worldwide. A cool site! Check the OgleEarth posting for more info.