Anyone who has seen the Pixar movie WALL-E remembers the scene as the lovable robot hero escapes Earth by stowing away on the outside of a spaceship. As the ship leaves the planet’s atmosphere, it bursts through an orbiting junkyard of satellites and space junk which encircle the planet.
This is actually not far from reality. You may be surprised to realize that there are actually thousands of satellites orbiting our planet at the moment. If our eyes were sharp enough, we could see dozens of satellites at any point in time, and thanks to a new layer from Italian developers G-maps, now we can.
With the new layer “Sat Tracker,” you can see where satellites are in the sky above you. Holding your phone up to the sky will reveal the locations of the satellites, which are pulled from the United States Strategic Command (USSSTRATCOM) database and updated every 5 minutes.
By tapping on a satellite you can view a wealth of information, including the identification number, country of origin, launch date, launch location and much more. You can also view detailed information from CelesTrak, as well as a map of the satellite’s trajectory over the planet.
The information provided in the layer is presented in a way that will fascinate the more scientific users while still being accessible to casual users. An experience like this truly works best in Augmented Reality. There is a difference between seeing satellites on a map and viewing them above you in the sky. Perhaps on a clear night, you can spot the satellites themselves hovering above us.