From mysterious robotic space planes to giant spy satellites the size of school buses, space is teeming with secret American hardware meant to gaze down on insurgents, terrorists and, well, everybody on the third rock from the sun.
For mere proles like you and me, it can be hard to get a straight answer from the Air Force, NASA and other space-faring agencies about precisely what is up there, what it’s doing and where exactly it all is at a given moment.
Now a pair of enterprising Frenchmen have decided to answer at least one of those questions for themselves, using a modified consumer-grade telescope, a small motor, a hand-held controller and a video camera. The result is a do-it-yourself satellite tracker capable of recording the movements of America’s most secretive spacecraft.
So last year Rietsch devised a new computer program, called Videos Sky, to move the telescope automatically. Now Legault uses a second telescope to “scout” for spacecraft, gets the 10-incher into place, peering at a spot the satellite is on course to pass through, and activates the computerized tracker once the target is in view. Legault has helpfully uploaded a video depicting the whole tracking process, as seen by the main telescope.
Read more at www.wired.com
Plus, what Legault and Rietsch are doing is legally aboveboard. The effort is actually no more illegal than standing on a public street and looking around really carefully. But considering how hard the intelligence community works to keep details of its space arsenal under wraps, it’s not hard to imagine the two Frenchmen have pissed off a lot of spooks unaccustomed to having regular people spy back.
Posted on: Jun 20, 2011 at 12:37 AM
- ozarkherbs posted this