"Where the ISS at" now offers a REST API! If you want to experiment with orbital information (current or historical), download two line element sets, or even get timezone information on a set of coordinates, it’s now really easy to do so. Read more about it here: http://wheretheiss.at/w/developer
This week I started paying more attention to error logs, and found that some of you may have been having problems logging in via Twitter, or that certain pass notifications sent to you in the past may have stopped working. In both cases, you would have landed on a generic “application error” page. Both of these things have been fixed.
The first problem, login failures, are a result of Twitter adding a redirect from HTTP to HTTPS to their OAuth authentication page, and the redirect was not handled gracefully. That was fixed on Friday evening.
The second problem was a long standing issue. A pass emailed or tweeted to you would likely work for a few weeks, maybe even a couple of months. But at some point, it would no longer work. This is due to how the ISS position is determined. Every day, Where the ISS at? (WTIA) downloads an updated description of the current ISS orbit in the form of a Two Line Element set (TLE) from celestrak.com. TLEs can be used to pretty accurately determine the position of an object in orbit, but to improve computational speed, they get less accurate the further you get from the date they were generated. That’s why an updated set is downloaded every day. However, WTIA only kept one current TLE. This has changed. With the help fo both celestrak.com and space-track.org, I’ve archived all TLEs I could find for the ISS since it launched in 1998 (over 23K), and will continue adding to the archive daily. This means that pass notifications that stopped working over time should now work again, and new notifications should always work going forward.
Lastly, I’ve improved the monitoring of application errors for WTIA, and should be responding to problems much more quickly.
Sorry for any inconvenience, and please let me know any feedback you might have!
Here’s a blog post I wrote today about using PostGIS for timezone lookups.
Now that WTIA is getting a decent amount of use, I wondered where people were using it from. A quick plot of locations on google maps shows that people from 13 different countries are using it to get notifications of ISS passes in their area. Pretty cool!