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Real-Time, Web-Based Satellite Tracking

in FOSS4G, FOSS4G2011, Video, OSGeo

NASA's Real-Time Mission Monitor (RTMM) service offers real-time ephemeris and footprint information for a variety of satellites, including many important Earth observation (EO) satellites cherished by the geospatial analysis and remote sensing communities. The authors have developed an application utilizing the RTMM web service to make ephemeris and footprint data more accessible to the general public. Users can watch accurate 3D models of EO satellites, generated using Google Sketch-Up, orbit the Earth in real-time within the Google Earth globe browser. Temporal and spatial queries allow users to find the position of satellites in the future or the next time that a given footprint will be imaged. The web application leverages several open-source technologies including the Python web framework Django, the DBMS PostgreSQL DMBS with PostGIS extensions and the Javascript library ExtJS. Data from the RTMM is ingested and cached by the web application, feeding KML/KMZ updates in real-time or fore/backcasting the position of satellites within the web browser. Remote sensing and GIS analysts will find obvious utility in the application, but perhaps the most significant value is for the public at large and particularly students who can gain insight into how our planet is studied from space, what tools we use and where they are now.

Arthur Endsley