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The Front Page

By Heather Stern

Space Shuttle Launch and Landing, xPlanet showing Kennedy


NASA is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for the United States government space program. The shuttle liftoff picture and the Discovery landing picture are from NASA's archives.

[BIO] xplanet follows the tradition of xearth but using real imagery. I've prepared this picture using the following options:

xplanet -output lg_cover117.jpg -geometry 800x560 --background /home/heather/xplanet_bg_lg117.jpg -body earth -longitude -20 -north orbit -config overlay_clouds.29july05 -center +330+280 -num_times 1

I fetched the current cloudcover imagery per the instructions in /usr/share/xplanet/images/README. I decided the night image was a little too dark and made a softer one called night_mode which still shows some of the landscape. Most people don't know that you can give it any background you like instead of having it speckle the black background. Many people know that you don't have to let it pick the origin point. I started with -origin=moon which looks great but the moon wasn't visible from Florida right then, so I had to move our point of view :)

The starfield is actually from an ultraviolet study of the Milky Way; read a little more about our galaxy at www.astro.virginia.edu/~mwk7v/sim/mw.shtml.

I created a markerfile with only one entry in it, the latitude and longitude for Kennedy Space Center, where the current shuttle took off and will land. There are a number of groups with custom markerfiles for various purposes. If you're putting together your own, you might take a look at Dave Pietromonaco's xearth markers page since he has a Gazetteer of coordinates for many locations.

May the shuttles enjoy many more successful flights.


Heather is Linux Gazette's Technical Editor and The Answer Gang's Editor Gal.

[BIO] Heather got started in computing before she quite got started learning English. By 8 she was a happy programmer, by 15 the system administrator for the home... Dad had finally broken down and gotten one of those personal computers, only to find it needed regular care and feeding like any other pet. Except it wasn't a Pet: it was one of those brands we find most everywhere today...

Heather is a hardware agnostic, but has spent more hours as a tech in Windows related tech support than most people have spent with their computers. (Got the pin, got the Jacket, got about a zillion T-shirts.) When she discovered Linux in 1993, it wasn't long before the home systems ran Linux regardless of what was in use at work.

By 1995 she was training others in using Linux - and in charge of all the "strange systems" at a (then) 90 million dollar company. Moving onwards, it's safe to say, Linux has been an excellent companion and breadwinner... She took over the HTML editing for "The Answer Guy" in issue 28, and has been slowly improving the preprocessing scripts she uses ever since.

Here's an autobiographical filksong she wrote called The Programmer's Daughter.

Copyright © 2005, Heather Stern. Released under the Open Publication license unless otherwise noted in the body of the article. Linux Gazette is not produced, sponsored, or endorsed by its prior host, SSC, Inc.

Published in Issue 117 of Linux Gazette, August 2005

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