once and select OPEN WITH > Notepad. Don’t let Excel
open the file or else you’ll find it back in a spreadsheet.
Highlight the entire text file and click EDIT > COPY. Close
down the file and open the sample KML file (if it’s closed).
Highlight just the old coordinate data between <COORDI
NATE> and </COORDINATE> and click EDIT > PASTE to
replace the old coordinate data with your new coordinates.
Save the file as a KML file by clicking FILE > SAVE AS,
then selecting ALL FILES in the SAVE AS TYPE window.
Be sure to end the name of the file with .KML. That’s it,
you’re done! You have a complete KML file ready for
Start Google Earth and click on FILE > OPEN. Select
your new KML file and watch the magic. You can change
the view of the flight path by clicking on the ground and
dragging the mouse. You can also change the view of the
flight path by adjusting the controls in the upper right-hand
corner of the screen. The compass rotates to a new
heading, the vertical slider bar on the right side changes the
range; and the horizontal slider bar on top changes the tilt.
You’ll get a three-dimensional feel for the flight path as you
move around it with these controls.
When I’m happy with the display of the flight path, I
save the image by clicking on FILE > SAVE > SAVE IMAGE.
Figure 4 shows an example of what I end up with.
Something I discovered after loading up a new flight
path is that the old ones are still stored in memory. I got to
see the flight paths of two earlier missions in Nebraska from
the perspective of a later mission in Kansas.
The two distant flight paths may be difficult to see
in Figure 5, but they’re clearly seen in Google Earth.
Besides, I can drag the earth around with my mouse
and zoom up to these flight paths. Now, if I could only drive
that fast ...
No doubt I’ve just begun to scrape the surface of
Google Earth. I want to experiment next with putting myself
on top of the flight path and see what the near spacecraft
is seeing. If you’re ready to give Google Earth a try with
near space, install the program and give my mission
NearSys 05B.KML file on the Nuts & Volts website a spin. I
can just image a day in the not-too-distant future when
power lines and houses will be accurately mapped in
Google Earth. Then, I can select a location in my front yard
and see what it looks like outside my house without leaving
my PC. Virtual reality anyone?
Onwards and Upwards,
Your Near Space Guide NV
* A Tiny Trak 3 is essentially a one-way radio modem.
You can purchase it online at www.byonics.com.
FOR YOUR INFO
I’ve created a website of my past near space
missions. There are images and data for most of my
62 missions. While you’re there, you can download
KML files for many of my flights and run them through
Google Earth for yourself.
March 2007 19