Download app (39.5MB):
Desktop only. Should be cross-platform. Last tested on macOS 10.12 (Sierra) 19/12/2017
Satellite Orbital Visualization Interface (S.O.Viz_v0.9) is an interactive visualization of Earth orbital data aggregated and made publicly available by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). The visual includes every satellite (loosely defined as any orbiting man-made object larger than a softball) launched since Sputnik in 1958. It enables exploration of each satellite's latest orbital geometry (apogee, perigee, inclination), launch date, and other functional information.
There are already many existing satellite tracking and visualization tools out there (see The Heavens Above, Google Earth's satellite visualization plug-in, or N2YO.) S.O.Viz_v0.9 is an attempt to visualize the data in a way that is akin to these tools – it is both interactive and "living" (what's seen here is what is in the sky more-or-less right now), but it also attempts to retain the graphical qualities of an infographic by representing the data as somewhat of an abstraction that highlights intresting comparisons between its various parts. S.O.Viz_v0.9 is a study of how these two different approaches to data visualization may be combined; the former acting as a scientific tool for objective understanding, the other being a mode of mediated expression.
The user launches the application and is introduced to the interface while waiting for the application to fetch and allocate the satellite data. Once allocated, the data is drawn and the user begins with a macro view of dataset at High Earth Orbit. The user can zoom to other orbital zones (Medium and Low Earth Orbits) for more detailed views. At Low Earth Orbit, the user can filter the dataset by decade, then subsequently by a year within the chosen decade. Here, the details of each individual satellite can be viewed.
Built with openFrameworks, utilizing the ofxUI, ofxTween, and ofxJSON addons. The data is pulled via the Space Track REST API and written to a JSON file. The latest dataset is pulled each time the application is launched. When the download is finished, the app then culls the file and stores object names, object types (payload, rocket body, or debris), apogees, perigees, launch dates, inclinations, and periods into application memory where they are accessed throughout the duration of the app's runtime.