FujiNet International Space Station (ISS) Tracker for Atari 8-bits
by Bill Kendrick, 2021
Where is the International Space Station? Where is it going? Who's aboard it right now? Track this information from the comfort of your 8-bit Atari computer, equipped with a FujiNet device!
I love watching the International Space Station streak across the sky when I can, and one night in spring 2021 it was going to be visible in my location (in the Pacific Northwest) for the first time in a long while. The ISS's visibility is determined not just by when it's passing overhead, but also what time it's passing, and how clear the skies are.
One of my children came out to watch, and mentioned that astronauts had returned to Earth a few days earlier. I pointed out there were of course still some other astronauts on-board, so hit the website How Many People Are In Space Right Now? to see who was up there. I noticed they now offer a mobile app for Apple iOS, but my phone was Android, so I searched around and came across HMPAISRN. On that app's info screen, I noticed it was Open Source and and that it uses some openly-available APIs for pulling its info. So I joked on the FujiNet Discord chat server that someone should write a "How Many People Are In Space Right Now?" program for the Atari.
Later that day I decided to just do it myself, and immediately discovered that the service powering that Android app also offers another API that provides the location of the International Space Station!
When you launch the program, a title will appear. Press any key to proceed. The program will fetch the current position of the International Space Station, and position an icon of it on a map of the Earth.
The program will automatically fetch the ISS's position on occasion,
and reposition the ISS icon on the screen. (It will leave a "trail"
of previous positions, which can help give you an idea of its
trajectory.) You can also press the
[R] key to
[P] key to see what people are in space
right now. The program will fetch the list of people currently
in space, and show them on the screen. Press a key to see each
person's name. Once all have been shown, the map will reappear.
You can also press
[Esc] to return to the map without
reviewing everyone's name.
[T] key to display tracking positions
that will show the ISS's position over the upcoming 100 minutes.
(Each orbit is approximately 90 minutes, so the track will end
near the current position, but a little to the west.)
The program will fetch two positions at a time, and draw them, wait a few moments (to avoid hitting the API service too quickly), and fetch two more.
Once it's done fetching and displaying the tracking positions,
the program will resume its regular behavior (waiting to refresh,
or for any of the keypresses described here). You can also press
[Esc] to abort this process before it ends.
atari-apps.irata.online" TNFS server (which
you can access from the "
CONFIG" tool that your
FujiNet device boots into) usually contains a recent stable
copy of the program, under the "
folder. Look for "
You might also enjoy my Astronomy Photo of the Day (APOD) Viewer for Atari 8-bits that uses FujiNet!
Map image based on
Equirectangular projection SW.jpg
created by Daniel R. Strebe, and licensed under the Creative
Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.