Do you have an interest in how satellites fly? Or are you teaching a physics class, and are interested in engaging students in a study of how orbital mechanics work? You might be interested in a fairly inexpensive new offering from Princeton Satellite Systems Inc. The company announced the release of a new educational and entertainment application called
Satellite Simulator. It’s billed as “a highly accurate simulation of earth-orbiting satellites,” and it’s available for the Mac.
The software’s developer explained that Satellite Simulator is intended as a new kind of entertainment and educational app that combines both programming and simulation. To that end, Satellite Simulator includes a complete control software project built using CodeWarrior, with extensive documentation. The application includes tools to design your own satellite, and users can also import their own models from DXF and 3DS-format files.
The simulation engine is based on MultiSatSim, a tool used by aerospace pros to develop flight software for Air Force and commercial satellites. The simulation software renders 3D graphics using OpenGL. Users can manipulate satellite parameters either by using the built-in interface or through C and C++ code. The control software uses TCP/IP to communicate with the simulation, so several users can control the satellites over a network. Users can fly up to eight satellites simultaneously.
Princeton said Satellite Simulator runs on Mac OS 9.0 through Mac OS X 10.1 (although their Web site says a Carbonized OS X version “will be released shortly”). Satellite Simulator carries a price of US$34.95.