Posted on April 2nd, 2013

Free For All – Track Satellites With Google Earth

Have you ever wondered exactly how many satellites are orbiting our planet right now? How about the amount  of space debris that is ‘out there’? Well look no farther as the folks at Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI) have developed a plugin for Google Earth that tracks the position of more than 13,000 active and inactive satellites, debris and rocket bodies. The database updates every 30 seconds and is based on information maintained by the United States Strategic Command.

A screengrab of Google Earth showing the position of WorldView-2 as reported by the AGI plugin.

Once you install Google Earth and open the KMZ file you can download here, you will be greeted by an almost overwhelming amount of data on orbiting space objects. In the Google Earth legend, you can toggle on and off the various classes of space objects. And by clicking on the moving icons, you can get information on the object’s orbital height, whether it is active and even on its projected trajectory.

One drawback is that this plugin does not have a search function. While there is no easy workaround for this oversight, here is what I can suggest. If you are looking for a specific satellite, you can search for its current location on this website, then zoom to that area in Google Earth and track it from there.

Until my next edition of Free For All, happy hunting for free geospatial goodies!

Brock Adam McCarty
Map Wizard
(720) 470-7988

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