We tend to think of space as a big empty void, absolutely chock full of nothing. And that’s true — except in the immediate vicinity of Earth. There are currently almost 5,000 satellites in Earth orbit, and, of those, there are almost 2,000 that are still operational. In additional to those satellites, there is also a significant amount of debris floating around. This device built by Redditor Almoturg tracks all of that with four tiers of LED disks.
All of those satellites and large pieces of space junk are tracked by the United States Air Force for space flight safety reasons, and that data is publicly available on space-track.org. Almoturg’s build parses that data, and displays it in a fun visual way. It determines which objects are currently overhead in a 248 mile diameter circle, and what their elevation is. The elevation is used decide what tier of the device to display the object on, and then an LED is lit up with the general location, with the LED changing color depending on the type of object.
The satellite tracker is powered by a Raspberry Pi 3B +, which handles the data parsing and logic. The case was 3D-printed on a Prusa MK3, and the LED ring PCBs were custom made using the Seeed Studio PCBA service. Other than the LEDs, the only interface is a small LCD and button that shows information about the objects overhead. Overall, it’s a really cool way to visualize what’s speeding around in Earth orbit.