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article imageNASA helps earthlings spot the ISS with new interactive map

By Jack Derricourt     Nov 7, 2016 in Technology
NASA has launched a new mapping tool to help people locate the International Space Station (ISS). ‘Spot the Station’ is an interactive map website that allows users to determine the time when they will be able to observe the ISS passing overhead.
As the largest artificial object in low earth orbit, the ISS can often be seen with the naked eye. The space station orbits the Earth 15.54 times per day, giving viewers many chances to look out for the vessel as it passes overhead. NASA included some helpful tips for spotting the ISS on their new interactive map website:
“The space station looks like an airplane or a very bright star moving across the sky, except it doesn’t have flashing lights or change direction. It will also be moving considerably faster than a typical airplane (airplanes generally fly at about 600 miles per hour; the space station flies at 17,500 miles per hour).”
The ISS has been orbiting the Earth for 16 years now, providing scientists all over the world with important research data. The station is a joint venture between five different space agencies: NASA, ESA, CSA, Roscosmos and JAXA. As humanity pushes for further exploration of planets like Mars, the space travel technologies tested on the ISS will begin to gain greater and greater significance.
And now, with the ability to keep in regular internet contact with the ISS, the interest of the general public has never been higher.
The live stream from the station — showing both live footage of its orbit and the life inside the station —, as well as the HD Earth viewing experiment, has also captured the imagination of many: hundreds of thousands of internet users regularly stream the views broadcast by cameras on the ISS.
It doesn’t hurt public interest that the views from the ISS can often be breathtaking. Astronaut and photographer Jeffrey Williams (who also holds the record from most cumulative days spent in space by a NASA astronaut) has famously captured some of the most amazing shots of the Earth from the ISS. But people also want to feast their eyes on the space station itself. The ‘Spot the Station’ tool already has over 300,000 people signed up for alerts of predicted sighting times from their location.
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