Oct 29, 2019

Tracking satellites through crowdsourcing

Photo: NASA

A newly announced project called TruSat uses crowdsourced data to track satellites in an effort to hold companies and nations operating in space accountable.

Why it matters: Space junk is a growing concern for those in the space industry, as companies plan to send thousands of satellites to orbit in the coming years.

  • Having reliable means of tracking those satellites and any space junk created from them will be key to creating a sustainable space economy.

What's happening: Today, governments and other organizations are trying to create standards to help limit the amount of space junk produced in orbit.

  • “The efficacy of those standards will be limited without accountability for their adherence, and a major impediment to that accountability is the absence of freely accessible, globally trusted record of satellite orbital positions,” Chris Lewicki, co-founder of ConsenSys Space, which makes TruSat, said via email.

How it works: Instead of relying on information from governments or companies and tracking data from the U.S. Air Force, TruSat will use data collected by people on the ground observing satellites from their own backyards.

  • There is already a vibrant community of people around the world who track satellites with binoculars or cameras from the ground and share that information with one another.
  • Users of TruSat are able to enter tracking information for satellites they observe into the program, where it will be included in a crowdsourced record showing the tracks of satellites in the night sky.
  • The TruSat system is still in an experimental phase, Lewicki said, adding that they hope to add more features in later versions.

Go deeper: The coming cost of moving satellites

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,410,228 — Total deaths: 345,105 — Total recoveries — 2,169,005Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Japan's economy minister outlined plans on Monday to end the nationwide state of emergency as the number of new novel coronavirus cases continues to decline to fewer than 50 a day, per Bloomberg. Japan has reported 16,550 cases and 820 deaths.

By the numbers: Over 5.4 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.1 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 13.7 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,800 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.