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Ionosphere in 4D - Visualizing Science
Seeing Science in Everyday Life

Date: Wednesday, April 30th, 2008, at 21:41
Subject: Ionosphere in 4D
Security: Public
Location:San Francisco, California
Tags:google earth, ionosphere, space weather

Space Environment Technologies’ Communication Alert and Prediction System has announced Earth Space 4-D, a collection of layers in Google Earth.

Unfortunately, the ES4D site offers basically no information about the layers themselves. For that, you need to go to the press release from which I learned about the whole thing: “ ‘Colors represent electron content,’ Tobiska explains. “Bright red is high density; that’s where radio communications are restricted to few or no frequencies. Blue is low density; no problem there.’ ” Okay, not bad, but why can’t we link to come kind of explanatory text on the page that serves up the data layers?

Another gripe. The ionosphere extends up to about 200 kilometers, but the KML layer seems to hover above that. It just seems like you could represent the electron density and such at its actual altitude.

And another. Unfortunately, you evidently need to download new KML files from the aforementioned site every time you want to take a look at the data. Hrm. Less than elegant. Isn’t there a way to offer KML layer that update automatically…?

So, I dunno. I guess this is a good start, but I think the offering could make better use of the available tools and technologies, the data should be represented to scale, and for heaven’s sake, we should be told what we’re looking at.
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