3D ISS Tracker

This project shows the live location of the International Space Station on a 3D globe. I decided to make this project after searching online for some challenging pragramming projects. A lot of those “top 10” lists said that creating an ISS tracker was pretty challenging. I didn’t agree and added some spice to it: show the ISS location on a 3D globe.

Demo

A demo can be found here.

Technologies used

As a quick summary, I used the following technologies and techniques:

I decided to use TypeScript with ThreeJS. TheeJS is a JavaScript library which makes it easy to create 3D content on webpages. I found it pretty challenging to use.

Challenges

During this project I overcame a few challenges.

  1. Displacement maps. I made use of displacement maps to make the globa a little more interesting. You can see the mountains sticking out of the globe. Those mountains are even on the real life place where they should be.
  2. Displaying the ISS position on a globe. This was by far the most challenging thing to do. To be honest, I’m not a math genius. This was challenging because I retrieve the ISS coordinates from a public API. The coordinates are delivered in a “longitude-latitude” format. How would one place those 2D coordinates on a 3D globe? I overcame this challenge by dividing it into smaller problems. Positioning the coordinates around a cilinder is easy. Then I proceeded to translate the cilinder to a globe.