To explain it as short as possible - Satellite tracking software are especial type of utilities which are capable of predicting the locations of a given satellite, at a give time. This is highly valuable information for armature radio geeks :P, (and others who rely on satellites) since this enables them to directly connect with the satellite using their radio equipment thus giving them maximum "exposure".
And even if you have no interests in "doing radio" still we can benefit from these applications since they "tell us" when and where we can spot a satellite (especially the bigger ones such as the international space station), which is pretty cool, right?.
So, if you use Ubuntu Linux you can install Gpredict in Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal (including 10.04/10.10 and other older versions) by using the official PPA channel.
To do that, as usual, open your Terminal and enter the below command.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gpredict-team/ppaI really like this app actually (GNU licensed). One thing for certain is that, even if you're totally new to all this, still because of the simple GUI (written in GTK+ toolkit)... it's so easy to getting used to.
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gpredict
By default it only shows few known satellites, concerning armature radio geeks, , using a beautiful world-map of course. But it support a huge list of other satellites tracking... so all we gotta do is create a new "profile/module" and create a list of our own!.
For instance, say that I wanted know the current location of ISS (international space station), then all I have to do is first launch the Gpredict, and from its Menu, choose:
"File" -> "New Module"
and from the next window that you get, give a module name and from the "search" box just below the "Satellites" sub-title, just search for "ISS" (replace it with whatever the satellite/s that you want to "track", man I feel powerful :P) as shown in the below screenshot.
But remember, you have to enter the official satellite name. For instance, if I search for "international space station", then Gpredict won't show any results :o.
That's because it's given the name of "ISS" (not an expert on this, but that's what I think). Depending on your needs, you can create a custom list of live satellite details of your own using this wonderful application.
|"Huston, we have ISS on sight!. Umm, everything is, under control :/"... ;-)|
We can also change how the default map looks like (few built in views), update interval, predicting threshold (to enhance the accuracy, etc), add/remove type of information that'll be "attached" to the satellite in the map (orbit phase, altitude, etc) are among very few its main features.
|Lots of "options" for the advanced users...|
So far, this is one of the coolest applications that I've come across and I think it's pretty much reasonable to say that, Gpredict is one of the best of its kind as well. Enjoy it!.