Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Where is satellite USA 193?

And how fast is the orbit decaying?

Heavens Above displays the orbital data for USA-193 in a highly informative way. Along with the real-time ground track and current position, they show the view from above the satellite and above the orbital plane. They also show the two-line elements and which number is which. If you don't know your apogee from a perigee, this is a good place to start.

Go see Heavens Above's display.

A 58.5 degree inclination orbit puts the satellite over a great deal of populated land. (0 degrees inclination means a satellite flies over the equator. 90 degrees inclination means the satellite flies over the poles. An inclination greater than 90 degrees means the satellite retrogrades.)

Try tracking the satellite yourself by installing and running John A. Magliacane's Predict program which runs on any Unix platform. I posted step by step instructions for the Mac OS X port in DIY Satellite Tracking.

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