Re: Geo sat leading Intelsat 707=96107 (+XML)

From: John A. Dormer 2 (jad@texas.net)
Date: Wed Mar 12 2008 - 04:41:13 UTC

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    At the end I segue into XML. My apologies for those who are put off by
    extreme computer-geeking. There's a great explanation of XML in the
    Pulvermacher paper.
    
    Brad Young wrote:
    | ...These characteristics are not consistent with most of my gen-X
    | contemporaries; nor, I fear, will it be with my kids' generation.
    
    It seems I've only met two others beyond Mike and Ed here in town who
    have a similar outlook on things regarding satellites.
    
    I do drag my children out to look at the lights whip across the sky. For
    them, I leave it as an artistic looking event. I fear that if I
    attempted explaining mechanical energies and velocities, I'd make their
    eyes glaze over. The older of the two is on the cusp of asking more
    questions, and I intend on involving him directly this summer as a
    helper. :)
    
    You've got to encourage wonder, IMHO. Otherwise a satellite can become
    just another unremarkable technological artifact like an airplane or a
    Styrofoam cup. "What do you suppose you'd see looking back at us from
    that little spot of light?"
    
    | Also, some of the software used and reporting conventions could use
    | a major overhaul, not in scope or quality, but user-friendliness
    | (please do not read as "dumbed-down").
    
    The conventions are there from times past, but they do put a low burden
    on the computers which read the data. TLEs are a perfect example, as is
    IOD format. I'll refer to these as "punchcard" formats, even if they
    don't all strictly use 80 or fewer columns.
    
    A tool can be constructed which, when fed the XML, could produce
    formatted work-alike output in the necessary "punchcard" formats. This
    would be relatively easy to make. It would keep our trusted tools from
    becoming obsolete.
    
    It would confound future historians if there were an explosion in
    formats for positional reports. Can one eXtensible Markup Language (XML)
    format do everything? Yes, if so designed. It could encapsulate all the
    rotational or positional observation formats. This means everything we
    see in Alberto Rango's well-formatted flash timings, Russel Eberst's UK
    format derivative or Miles' original, Lewis' IOD type, and maybe even
    capture informal "look" data. But it would need an input tool so the
    burden isn't put on the user.
    
    An existing subschema for positional data would be a good start:
    
    http://www.mitre.org/work/tech_papers/tech_papers_00/pulvermacher_space/space_pulvermacher.pdf
    
    Please look to Section D.7, SatObservation.xsd. Even though the layout
    is probably foreign, there's a lot of human-readable text which will be
    readable. The meanings will be obvious, but I admit that the format
    takes some skill to implement. It is rather "turning the crank," though.
    
    This description, SatObservation.xsd, tells what's possible to have in
    the record, and only in the base data types does it indicate what is
    required.
    
    Rotational observations could also be handled with additions to the xsd
    file cited above. It's called "extensible" for a reason.
    
    Here are some other schema to glean ideas from. I especially like the
    idea of the antenna phase center, local weather, explicit citation of
    physical constants and horizon data presented in this one, but it's not
    all applicable to optical work:
    
    	http://www.orbitml.com/schema/OrbitML_xsl.xsd
    	http://www.orbitml.com/schema/observationsFile.xsd
    	http://www.orbitml.com/schema/eventsFile.xsd
    
    The only thing missing in the second one is the "RA/Dec" format, but
    given enough location and weather information it should be possible to
    convert Az/El to it with sufficient accuracy.
    
    I might just take a whack at an IOD-to-SatObservation converter this
    weekend.
    
    	John
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