How to track commercial spy satellites over Sri Lanka

IKONOS2 imaging satellite (orbital path and overfly times in the screen grab below ) is one may commercial “spy satellites” that over fly Sri Lanka.

IKONOS2 orbital path data over Sri Lanka. The things we do on a slow day at the office ;)

Images from IKONOS2 can show objects up to 1m in size and are available for anyone who can afford it. The East View Cartographic website has higher altitude examples available. For those bored with Google Earth and willing to pay for some variation, there’s Genesiis Software (Pvt) Ltd who is the reseller for IKONOS related goodies in Sri Lanka.

Another imaging satellite that regularly visits Sri Lanka is one of the COSMOS family (tracking data screen shot below). The COSMOS is listed as a “communications” satellite by NASA but has others that are listed under the “surveillance” category. If you know more, the comment box below awaits your expert wisdom.

COSMOS satellite path over Sri Lanka

With the launch of GeoEye-1, the resolution has increased to less than half a metre. For the rich and bored its a great way to check out the latest at the LTTE’s Iranamadu airstrip or the actual extent of the damage caused by air force attacks. So much for bans on taking pictures in Fort or the Defence ministry’s touchy attitude about maps 🙂

It is logical to expect that a terrorist organisation like the LTTE does its spy satellite shopping else where. For terrorists they particularly adapt at using satellite technology. Even to extent of hijacking satellites to broadcast propaganda and perhaps other forms of data. The carries a lengthy article on the terrorist hijacking of satellites – specifically of the Intelsat-12 satellite (formally called Europe Star 1). It even got discussed on slashdot. The incident is also covered in an post about “How to hack a satellite“. Of course this is old stuff. As far as our rulers are concerned satellite is just an ex president 😉

The IKONOS2 and COSMOS are not the only spy satellites that fly over Sri Lanka. You can easily locate the others via several satellite tracking sites. I found using the website “Real time satellite tracking” together with the “Heavens Above” website a very easy way to locate satellite fly over info. Both websites have extensive databases of the satellites in orbit as well as online tools to that calculate overfly information at any location you care to specify. I was able to generate the images in this post within minutes of logging into Real time satellite tracking website (its free). You can use it track Intelsat-12 if you are so inclined.

5 thoughts on “How to track commercial spy satellites over Sri Lanka

  1. You find some gems of information. I hope I had the time like you to poke around this kind of interesting stuff and walk on the wild side.

    Thanks for the information, like your style.


  2. Yoyo: 😀 Thank you always happy to hear that another likes what I wrote. I have to admit, my time is quite tight as well – this post was put together over a long time – only got around to posting it on a weekend.


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