NASA Announces New Spot The Station Service On 12th Anniversary
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
NASA is celebrating the 12th year of continually manned operations on the International Space Station (ISS) with the launch of a new service that will let space enthusiasts know when the orbiting lab is flying over their neck of the woods.
The service, called “Spot the Station,” was announced Friday November 2, 2012, twelve years to the day when Expedition 1 first arrived at the home away from home. For those who sign up for the Spot the Station service, an email or text message will be sent to them a few hours before the space station is due to fly over their backyard.
“It’s really remarkable to see the space station fly overhead,” said William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations.
NASA said the space station, when it is visible in the night sky, it the brightest object other than the moon. On a clear night, it is visible as a fast moving point of light, similar in size and brightness to Venus. Users of the service can sign up for night viewings, early morning viewings, or both.
More than 90 percent of the world’s population are able to see the space station as it circumnavigates Earth at more than 225 miles above us. However, the service only notifies users of passes that are high enough in the sky that are not obstructed by trees, buildings or other objects on the horizon.
NASA’s Johnson Space Center calculates sighting information several times per week for more than 4,600 locations around the world, all of which are available on “Spot the Station.”
The space station orbit’s the Earth once every 90 minutes, meaning it can make 16 passes in each 24 hour period.