One fun and interesting thing to explore on the LeoLabs platform is the visualization of all the objects we are tracking in Low Earth Orbit. At https://platform.leolabs.space/visualization you can see a stream of the locations of roughly 13,000 objects over the past 24 hours. In the menu on the upper-left of the screen, you can choose the playback speed and selectively display objects by name, country of origin, altitude, and other criteria. You can also directly interact with the globe via the cursor to rotate around or zoom in to areas of interest, and click on individual objects to show their information and center the camera view on that object. Give it a try!
A particularly interesting example is the SpaceX Starlink constellation of satellites. SpaceX is in the process of deploying thousands of satellites to provide worldwide internet access. These satellites will orbit Earth in a series of orbital planes inclined by 53 degrees relative to the equator. To see this view live in the visualization platform, simply type “Starlink” into the search box or click here. Note that the size of the icons for the spacecraft are much enlarged so as to be visible on the scale of the Earth.
SpaceX has had three dedicated Starlink launches so far, with each launch releasing 60 spacecraft. These satellites are initially deployed at a lower altitude and in close proximity to one another. In the days and weeks following deployment, they use their onboard propulsion to slowly boost themselves to a higher altitude of 550 km while spreading out along their orbital plane. Above you can see a recently launched grouping of Starlink satellites still moving together as a pack, as well as some earlier launched groupings that have already boosted upwards and been spread out along their orbital plane.
This year SpaceX expects to perform 23 additional Starlink launches, all of which LeoLabs will track. Our visualization platform automatically updates once new objects are added to our catalog, so searching “Starlink” will continue to show each new batch of satellites once we begin tracking them with our global network of phased-array radars. Expect to see this visualization to grow rapidly, as many more Starlink satellites reach orbit!