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Earth Space

Every Satellite Tracked In Realtime Via Google Earth 196

Posted by kdawson
from the bejeweled-coterie dept.
Matt Amato writes "With the recent discussion of the ISS having to dodge some space junk, many people's attention has once again focused on the amount of stuff in orbit around our planet. What many people don't know is that USSTRATCOM tracks and publishes a list of over 13,000 objects that they currently monitor, including active/retired satellites and debris. This data is meaningless to most people, but thanks to Analytical Graphics, it has now been made accessible free of charge to anyone with a copy of Google Earth. By grabbing the KMZ, you can not only view all objects tracked in real-time, but you can also click on them to get more information on the specific satellite, including viewing its orbit trajectory. It's an excellent educational tool for the space-curious. Disclaimer: I not only work for Analytical Graphics, but I'm the one that wrote this tool as a demo."
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Every Satellite Tracked In Realtime Via Google Earth

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  • Confused (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:14AM (#24887077) Journal

    The title says "every", the summary says 13,000 objects. Is this really complete, or are there objects that are not tracked (or at least not disclosed)?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rob T Firefly (844560)
      I would think it highly likely that there are certain objects in space that the United States Strategic Command would prefer not to talk about.
      • Re:Confused (Score:5, Informative)

        by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:20AM (#24887135)
        That doesn't mean that a lot of them are not easily tracked even by amateur astronomers. It is tricky to make something that can see you, but you not be able to see it.
        • Re:Confused (Score:5, Funny)

          by AndrewNeo (979708) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:27AM (#24887219) Homepage
          Paint it black?
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Nothing is 100% black, so it would still be visible. Besides, it would become too hot.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by somersault (912633)

              Nothing is 100% black

              What about black holes? They just need to get the LHD guys to make them some strangelet paint.

              • Oops, I meant LHC. Though miners know a lot about black holes too.

              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                by Pugwash69 (1134259)
                If there's any black holes in orbit, we have more important problems than a little debris.
                • Re:Confused (Score:4, Funny)

                  by jank1887 (815982) on Friday September 05, 2008 @09:50AM (#24888297)
                  we should put a black hole in orbit to take care of the debris. we can name it Hoover.
                • Actually, no we don't. A black hole weighing as much as a satellite would for all intents and purposes be equivalent to a satellite up there, as far as gravity goes. Except if you hit it you get sucked in, but if you hit a satellite you're in trouble too.

          • Re:Confused (Score:5, Interesting)

            by v1 (525388) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:55AM (#24887565) Homepage Journal

            they're usually given away by the glint of sun off their solar panels. you can find information on most of the "secret" satellites with google, they've pretty much all been located by the amateur astronomy community. Some even have pictures of them. Probably really gets some NSA types blood boiling.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              So... some sort of shielding to prevent reflection making it down onto earth and some servo controllers to rotate said shielding to ensure no light reflection would be a bad idea then?

              Just strikes me as a very virus vs anti-virus type argument, they keep building them, amateurs keep detecting them - somewhere along the line some genius is going to work it out...

              Right? They do have genius' there... oh god...
              • Re:Confused (Score:4, Interesting)

                by fabs64 (657132) <beaufabry+slashdot,org&gmail,com> on Friday September 05, 2008 @10:02AM (#24888469)
                It's a solid object. As it stands that assures that it will either absorb, reflect or diffract all electromagnetic radiation that hits it with a wavelength less than its size. All three of those things are detectable.

                At the moment it's more of a drm(hiders) vs hackers(finders) situation.
                • by thePig (964303)

                  Since we cannot anyways see the satellite in the morning, I wonder whether we can find an object if it absorbs the EM - since it will look like the background in the night?

                  • Since we cannot anyways see the satellite in the morning, I wonder whether we can find an object if it absorbs the EM - since it will look like the background in the night?

                    There are things that provide or reflect EM radiation from beyond the orbit of satellites in the sky at night; the most obvious being the moon and stars.

            • by Wyatt Earp (1029)

              Naw, the NSA/NRO types don't get boiling blood over it. There simply is no way to hide a launch and orbit so they just have to accept the realities of what it takes to orbit one of these boxes.

              Besides, they make cool patches and team logos for the missions and programs, which is more than a public company like Apple allows, so they aren't *that* paranoid about it.

        • Says the guy who has thousands of people reading his comment, and only sees the ones who comment on it.

        • Re:Confused (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Lincolnshire Poacher (1205798) on Friday September 05, 2008 @09:25AM (#24887949)

          Plus, they have to be lofted in public view and there is an entire art to determining their missions based on their project patches:

          http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1033/1 [thespacereview.com]

      • Re:Confused (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Gordonjcp (186804) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:35AM (#24887295) Homepage

        Every military satellite launched, not just by the US but by *anyone* can be tracked. Even gpredict has keps for US military stuff. You can track it, you can often see it with the naked eye, and you certainly can receive signals from them. Decoding the signals is harder, but with fairly modest equipment you can certainly hear that they are there.

        • by afabbro (33948)

          Every military satellite launched, not just by the US but by *anyone* can be tracked. Even gpredict has keps for US military stuff. You can track it, you can often see it with the naked eye, and you certainly can receive signals from them. Decoding the signals is harder

          "Harder" like "cracking RSA on your home PC" hard :-)

          • That's the assumption, but just imagine if it wasn't :-)

            I wonder how easy it is for them to switch encryption algos on the older birds?

            • I wonder how easy it is for them to switch encryption algos on the older birds?

              Assuming that your cryptosystem has been broken, how do you even authenticate to the satellite that you are who you say you are?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by MrNaz (730548)

        Radar tech: Sir, I'm tracking an object that appears to be roughly eight inches long, orbiting roughly where you'd expect an object to be if it were jettisoned from the ISS.

        Ex-ISS senior staffer: I don't want to talk about it.

        Radar tech: Sir, but according to these readings, it appears to have a bulbous end and is made of silicone rubber...

        Ex-ISS senior staffer: Dammit Dennis I said I don't want to talk about it!

    • Re:Confused (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hoofinasia (1234460) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:21AM (#24887141)
      Of course, whenever the seller / developer presents software, the language gets a tad stronger. "Every" might not be "all."

      However, given the recent interest in commercialized space travel / exploration, it would be in the USStratCom (US Strategic Command)'s best interest to keep X-Prize's rockets off their damn satellites. So I'm guessing the list is pretty comprehensive.
      • by zappepcs (820751)

        In the tech industry (marketing aside) terminology is very important. In this case (I'm guessing) it is possible that since he wrote the utility, ALL might mean ALL that he can get data for. This is technically correct, if slightly out of context, despite the source data only being available for 13000-ish object.

        That said, 13,000 is a lot to track yet ALL objects being tracked would be more reassuring. After all, mini black holes at the LHC, rogue military space junk, Syria offering peace with Israel. Surel

    • Re:Confused (Score:5, Interesting)

      by oneiros27 (46144) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:32AM (#24887283) Homepage

      Besides the conspiracy side of things, there are number of objects that are just simply too small to track. So when satellites have been shot down, or an astronaut drops a bolt, it's out there, but it might not be tracked. The last number I heard was 110k objects over 1cm [space.com] ... and that number's 8 years old.

      • by barzok (26681)

        Can you really "drop" a bolt in orbit?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Jason Levine (196982)

          Of course you can. Remember, orbiting is the state of constantly falling towards an object (in this case Earth), but always missing the ground. So the bolt is dropped, falls, and misses the ground over and over. At least until it hits into something else, shoots out into space (unlikely), and/or lowers orbit enough to burn up in the atmosphere.

        • why wouldn't you be able to? astronauts are not infallible.

          As for it staying in orbit, well given that when its droped it has the same angular momentum as the astronaut, it will probably stay in orbit for a while.

    • There are many objects omitted by the released elements. You may recall a spat in August 2007 wherein the French authorities threatened to release elements for what were assumed to be classified US assets.

      Also the StratCom elements are subject to an end-user license that prohibits dissemination of the data or any analysis based thereupon. Many amateur observers therefore refrain from using the elements:

      http://www.space-track.org/perl/user_agreement.pl [space-track.org]

      Ted Molczan and the guys on the SeeSat list do a

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by confused one (671304)
      It has more to do with what can be tracked. Objects too small to track with ground based radar, smaller than about an inch across, aren't tracked because we simply can not see them.
    • The title says "every", the summary says 13,000 objects. Is this really complete, or are there objects that are not tracked (or at least not disclosed)?

      If it were 100% complete, Google would be revealing to terrorists when spy satellites are over their training camps.

      So I give your question a relatively firm "NO".

  • by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:18AM (#24887109)
    From what I hear, it's a pretty nice company to work for. Too nice in fact. The guy who was my Best Man at my wedding works there. You guys really need to let him out more. He likes it too much, and his family and friends miss him.
  • by apathy maybe (922212) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:24AM (#24887185) Homepage Journal

    According to the Wikipedia article on Keyhole Markup Language, the following apps can read and understand it:

            * ArcGIS Explorer
            * Feature Manipulation Engine (FME)
            * Flickr
            * Google Earth
            * Google Maps
            * Google Mobile
            * Live Search Maps
            * Microsoft Virtual Earth
            * Map My Ancestors
            * Mapufacture
            * Marble (KDE)
            * OpenLayers
            * Platial
            * RouteBuddy for Mac
            * WikiMapia
            * World Wind
            * Yahoo Pipes
            * SuperMap iServer (SuperMap IS) .NET and Java
            * OpenLAPI, an LGPL implementation of the Location API for Java ME

    So, for those of you who don't have, or don't want to use, or can't use Google Earth, there are plenty of other options available.

    But yes, it's pretty cool what you can do hey.

  • xplanet? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Speare (84249) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:27AM (#24887211) Homepage Journal

    It seems like every couple months, Google Earth gains another feature that's been working for months or years in the X Planet program. Day/Night artwork, Satellite ephemeris, etc. I'm still waiting for cloud layer updates and I don't think there's a solar or lunar locator on it yet. The interactive nature of Google Earth is nicer than the command-line static image output of X Planet. The author of X Planet had a private script that would take three 120-degree views of radar-measured cloud data from various weather services and stitch them into a single spherical projection to be used in the graphics. He'd update it every 3 hours or so, and host the stitched version. I'm sure Google could arrange a similar process and host the image data in such a way as not to hammer the original servers nor the X Planet server.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by hab136 (30884)

      Since it's not the first result in Google (or the second, or even the first page):

      http://xplanet.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

      Indeed, it seems it only makes a static picture, versus being a data exploration tool like Google Earth.

    • Re:xplanet? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Tangent128 (1112197) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:42AM (#24887399)
      Err... it already does that- under "Weather", there are checkboxes for cloud cover (worldwide) and radar (limited to U.S & Europe).

      I'm looking at Hanna, Ike, that splotch that may become something, and Josephine right now, and can see Gustav's remains in Canada. Pretty cool.
    • Not to mention that satellite ephemeris have been a working feature of XEphem for 15 years.
  • And also.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AnswerIs42 (622520) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:29AM (#24887253) Homepage
    You can use WWJava and JSatTrack [gano.name]

    And NASA's J-Track [nasa.gov]

    There is also a plug-in for WorldWind.net.. but that is only 400 objects.. though it could be easily tweaked to show the 13,000 list as well I am sure.

  • Since the Reagan era, we don't reveal all of the orbits of everything we launch. It's not, of course, like the Russians don't know the orbits of these other satellites, but they are not in our lists.

    And, any observation net can only track objects down to a certain size, probably in the few ounce range for 13,000 objects.

    • by bbn (172659)

      Which means that USA is publishing a list of which objects to watch.

      Anything big, but not on the US list -> its a spy satelite. Better cover everything up when it passes overhead.

      Sometimes policies like this are just stupid.

  • j-track 3d (Score:4, Insightful)

    by KatTran (122906) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:36AM (#24887323)

    The subject sums it up, but I'm getting a little pissed at technology that is developed at NASA (World Wind) is just getting co-opted by Google (Google Earth) with no respect paid to the initial innovators.

    J-Track 3D has been around for years doing this exact same function of plotting satellite trajectories including ground trace and additional information if you click on the satellite.

    Just because you do it using Google doesn't mean that it's new, cool, innovative or news worthy.

    http://science.nasa.gov/Realtime/jtrack/3d/JTrack3d.html [nasa.gov]

    There is also J-Track which on Windows, with its "active desktop" feature, can be set as your background/wallpaper to always be tracking weather and satellites.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Gewalt (1200451)

      Just because you do it using Google doesn't mean that it's new, cool, innovative or news worthy.

      People were doing it with telescopes and pen and paper long before JTRACK3D, just because JTRACK3D did it via software doesn't mean that it's new, cool, innovative or news worthy.

      Oh wait, yes, yes it does. And this new revolution of actively sharing data cross platform with any app that wants it is also new, cool, innovative and newsworthy.

    • by dargaud (518470)
      Why isn't the space station listed in there ?
    • Re:j-track 3d (Score:5, Informative)

      by Suddenly_Dead (656421) on Friday September 05, 2008 @09:50AM (#24888293)

      The subject sums it up, but I'm getting a little pissed at technology that is developed at NASA (World Wind) is just getting co-opted by Google (Google Earth) with no respect paid to the initial innovators.

      Google Earth originated with Keyhole, Inc. (who was bought by Google), not NASA. Keyhole's Earth Viewer (which is now Google Earth) seems to have been first released in 2001; Worldwind's first release was in 2004.

      • I think the original point is.. they were done before: "Google Did It" or someone made a KML to do it. People have a mindset that if "Google didn't do it, it must never had been done before".
        • I think the original point is.. they were done before: "Google Did It" or someone made a KML to do it. People have a mindset that if "Google didn't do it, it must never had been done before".

          Well, I was specifically responding to paragraph 1, which seemed to indicate that Google Earth is somehow stealing Worldwind's glory. The rest of that post is pretty relevant though; this KML certainly isn't novel.

    • by schlick (73861)

      The subject sums it up, but I'm getting a little pissed at technology that is developed at NASA (World Wind) is just getting co-opted by Google (Google Earth) with no respect paid to the initial innovators.

      Um well, Google isn't doing anything here accept providing a platform to display data. The data is collected by USSTRATCOM and compiled into KML by Analytical Graphics. I know it is fashionable not to RTFA, but at least read the damn summary.

    • Starry Night, too, and it's a nice, very complete companion for amateur astronomers.

      • I am currently taking an astronomy class at college and our text came with a copy of Starry Night Enthusiast software. The installer only works for Windows/Mac, but the software is java/opengl. Maybe one of these days I could try to load it under Linux. Anyway, it is rather neat software. I am just starting to explore it and some of the views it produces are incredible. Here is the website: http://www.starrynight.com/ [starrynight.com]

  • Spy Satellites (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mechanik (104328) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:40AM (#24887365) Homepage
    So how long before this can be used to determine when spy satellites are/are not overhead and able to observe you? I would assume that with some basic armchair assumptions about the FOV and zoom capabilities of the satellites' cameras, one could project a cone onto a model representing the surface of the earth and determine the viewable area to each satellite (the existence of which and orbits of which are generally known by satellite buffs).

    I've long wondered if something like this is already available to foreign intelligence operatives... it's long been said that say the Russians know exactly when US spy satellites are due to be overhead, and change their behaviour and camouflage anything they don't want seen in time for when the satellites pass overhead.

    It raises some interesting issues with respect to national security, the war on drugs/terror/etc. However, given it's all based on public knowledge and you can't exactly outlaw math, I fail to see what the government could do about it.
    • Re:Spy Satellites (Score:5, Informative)

      by ledow (319597) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:47AM (#24887465) Homepage

      I think you'll find that your information is a little out of date and mainly applies to older military satellites.

      Anything "critical" wold be done with a better satellite or a cloud of smaller satellites that are impossible to "avoid". For instance, GPS demands that at least four satellites are in view at all times from every part of the globe to get an accurate fix. Satellites which are, on the whole, run, controlled or have interests from the US Government. I'm not saying that the GPS system is for primarily military "spying" purposes, but it shows that even the public satellite orbits are enough to basically see anything, anywhere, given the most basic of manoeuvring capability.

      What makes you think that all of the "unheard of" satellites are any different, or in fewer numbers, or not able to move to look at anything interesting within a reasonable timeframe? It would be quite pointless, after all, to launch a modern multi-billion dollar military satellite if all that was required was public information / academic data gathered from worldwide telescopes to render them completely useless.

      Even easier would be to, oh, I don't know, do things at night (yes, IR-capable satellites exist but it makes things harder straight away)? Or do things in large warehouses with a roof?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Mechanik (104328)
        You have a point perhaps with most of what you wrote (admittedly I am not up on the latest and greatest of US spy satellite tech), but there are a few issues with the below:

        Even easier would be to, oh, I don't know, do things at night (yes, IR-capable satellites exist but it makes things harder straight away)? Or do things in large warehouses with a roof?

        Some things are just difficult to hide in this manner, not to mention expensive. Yes, there is a history of say, the Soviets building nuclear submarines

      • Re:Spy Satellites (Score:5, Informative)

        by nedlohs (1335013) on Friday September 05, 2008 @09:19AM (#24887869)

        GPS satellites orbit at around 20200km., Spy satellites (of the take pictures variety - some other types are in geosynchronous orbit, SBIRS and Rhyolite for example) orbit at around 200km (sometime under 100km, sometimes 600km - there's the obvious detail/area trade off).

        GSP just requires line of sight. Spy satellite cameras point in some direction.

        Claiming there is any relationship at all between having 4 GPS sats in view at any time and what spy satellites are capable of is ridiculous.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by digitalchinky (650880)

          There are so many overhead assets that all the responses above are accurate. In this day and age if you want something to stay hidden, you keep it under wraps. Not just any kind of wraps though. Floating above are devices that can look at pretty much any part of the spectrum, along with active systems such as synthetic aperture RADAR. RADAR is quite cool, it can even peek through various layers and see what's underneath to a limited extent.

          Here are some RADAR images.
          http://www.fas.org/irp/imint/radar.htm [fas.org]

          Th

        • GPS satellites orbit at around 20200km

          Hm... that would make for one heck of a long baseline array...

        • No, it's not so ridiculous. GPS works pretty much everywhere, pretty much all of the time because there are 4 or more satellites "visible" pretty much everywhere, pretty much all of the time. Reciprocity works both ways. If you can "see" the satellite, the satellite can "see" you. The point he was making is that if you had a cluster of spy satellites similar in size to the GPS cluster, then pretty much every point on the planet could be under surveillance pretty much all of the time.
    • It raises some interesting issues with respect to national security, the war on drugs/terror/etc. However, given it's all based on public knowledge and you can't exactly outlaw math, I fail to see what the government could do about it.

      pssst. Most drones can loiter between 24-48 hours over a given area, and send realtime data back to wherever it needs to go.

      I'm sure there's some cool stuff that can be done with satellites that can't be done with drones, But when it comes to taking pictures of who is where? I

      • by Mechanik (104328)

        I'm sure there's some cool stuff that can be done with satellites that can't be done with drones, But when it comes to taking pictures of who is where? I'll take a few drones at 50,000ft with good cameras (that can watch an area uninterrupted for days / weeks) over a satellite with an awesome camera that's 400 miles away.

        Interesting thought. I assume though that keeping drones up constantly is probably not cost effective. Satellites, while expensive to build and send into orbit, are cheap once they're u

        • I think you should take a look at how successful the global hawk program has been, and just look into the return we've gotten on drones in general.

          The KH-12's run about a billion dollars a piece, and the launches cost $400 million a piece, per wikipedia. The Global Hawks cost $123 million a piece (again, per wikipedia). Which has would be more useful in providing up to the minute information about someplace halfway around the world?

          (of course, the flip side to that argument is that you're not going to fly h

    • I would assume that with some basic armchair assumptions about the FOV and zoom capabilities of the satellites' cameras

      Well the problem is that more modern satellite have supposedly more complicated Cassegrain assemblies [wikipedia.org] making them able to shoot pictures at weird angles.

      So although amateurs satellite watcher could very well help establish a precise map of all "über-secret"(*) military satellites *are* - inferring which part of the world are indeed visible and looked at is going to be slightly more complicated.

      But civilian applications (knowing which of the official satellite is looking where) could be more easily done

  • 'Nod' tag (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Spatial (1235392) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:46AM (#24887457)
    What? I don't get it. Should we call in the GDI, or is this yet another useless meme tag?
  • Remember the days when you had to pay to get a picture of your house taken? Was that a rip? Or does google have enough money around to be able to offer the entire earth (almost) as a free service?

  • Misleading? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blantonl (784786) on Friday September 05, 2008 @09:03AM (#24887651) Homepage

    I think the story might be a little misleading.

    I suspect that not every object's info is made available, rather only the objects that USSTRATCOM deems appropriate for public consumption. Spy Sats, classified objects, and other items that they classify as not appropriate certainly doesn't show up in this KML.

    Or do they? ;-)

    • At one point the French were claiming that there were numerous satellites, which they had identified, which were not on the USSTRATCOM list. Of course, the US said that they knew nothing about them and that the French must have "mis-identified" the objects in question. You draw your own conclusions...
    • Re:Misleading? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday September 05, 2008 @11:31AM (#24889621) Journal

      I suspect that not every object's info is made available, rather only the objects that USSTRATCOM deems appropriate for public consumption. Spy Sats, classified objects, and other items that they classify as not appropriate certainly doesn't show up in this KML.

      Or do they? ;-)

      They don't.
      Last year the French "negotiated" with the USA to remove "secret" French satellites from the list.
      And by "negotiated" I mean "threatened to reveal unpublished USA satellites".
      http://www.space.com/news/060707_graves_web.html [space.com]

      That isn't to say the satellites aren't trackable, they just aren't published publicly by any governments AFAIK.

    • Yeah, but wouldn't you just have to locate the blank spots in the sky and start to track that?

  • I think some companies should just go clean up all the retired/inactive/disfunctional satellites or junk and recycle it! ;)
  • I know, it's a wow kind of thing.

    But if you think about it a bit, an orbital path can be described by a very few numbers-- the angles to the equator and to Greenwich, and the minor and major radii. All else can be computed on the fly by about 8 lines of code.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The usual format is NASA 2-line format [celestrak.com]. People (including me) have been using it to track satellites for years.

      The orbital models have been refined over the years. The latest version I've seen is this one [celestrak.com].

      ...laura

    • by Jubedgy (319420)

      In fact, you need to six variables (state vectors, classical orbital elements, etc...) to define an orbit. The standard distribution format is the two line element (TLE).

  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Friday September 05, 2008 @10:02AM (#24888475)

    I not only work for Analytical Graphics, but I'm the one that wrote this tool as a demo.

    Domo arigato Mr. Amato.

  • We should place in front of the ISS a thin, strong lightweight netting.

    It could have a number of mass objects (weights) with thrusters to keep them apart. The net would span a few miles catching large debris. Clearing the path for the ISS.

    When full, the netting would be closed. And towed to a lower orbit. And eventually burn up in the atmosphere.

  • Wow. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by arcsimm (1084173)

    It was certainly a shocker when Google Earth loaded up the satellite data. I knew there was a lot of crap up there, but damn!

    If I could make one suggestion, though, should you continue to develop this: Different icons for different classes of satellite? For instance, a greyed-out icon for inactive satellites, a booster for rocket leftovers, a chunk of rock for space debris, etc... I spent about a minute wondering why there were so many weather satellites over the US until I realized that most of them w

  • by gujo-odori (473191) on Friday September 05, 2008 @11:03AM (#24889269)

    Go ahead and mod me OT, but it's Friday and I'm just pissed off to be the last person in the universe who knows the difference between a disclosure statement and a disclaimer.

    "This is a cool new toy/tool/product I'm posting on Slashdot, and by the way, I not only work at the company that produces it, I wrote it" is a disclosure.

    A disclaimer typically contains language such as "Not responsible for damages resulting from use, or inability to use, this product. Not even if it burns your house, steals your car, drinks your liquor from your old fruit jar, *and* steps on your blue suede shoes."

    Disclosure statements are meant to inform the reader of, for example, a potential conflict of interest, and shield the discloser from potential liability (whether legal or just in terms of face) should the disclosure not be made.

    Disclaimers are basically just weasel words intended to deny having any liability for, say, the quality or lack thereof, or some product. Or put another way, disclosure is taking responsibility (to some extent, at least, and not always), whereas disclaimers are solely intended to worm out of responsibility that the you probably have, at least morally if not legally. And maybe legally. Not all disclaimers will stand up in court. I wouldn't be surprised if most won't.

  • by Dan Parker (966952) on Friday September 05, 2008 @11:23AM (#24889515)
    ...and they're use's.
  • by KoshClassic (325934) on Friday September 05, 2008 @12:05PM (#24890089)

    Patriot Games showed us that women can be identified in spy satellite photos from their, ahem, curves.

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