File Exchange Pick of the Week

Our best user submissions

Satellite Trajectory

Will's pick this week is Satellite Trajectory by Huy Nguyen.

This submission provides an app that you can install and add to your toolstrip. A panel on the left enables the user to specify the orbital elements of a satellite orbiting a central body. The Earth and Mars are built-in options for the central body, but the user can specify parameters to orbit about other planetoids. Finally, the app enables the user to specify a ground station to track the satellite from.

You push the plot button, and a simulation runs behind the scenes that predicts the motion of the satellite for a specified amount of time. Six tabs of information are presented, a mix of 2D and 3D plots. There's even an animation button that plays the motion back for you. Here are some screenshots from a Mars run I tried.

Decades ago while a student, I dabbled with a similar concept. I never got very far; Huy has fulfilled my vision! Still, there's always room for more bells and whistles. Here are some ideas:
  • Provide the user documentation on how the orbits are calculated
  • Give the user the option to define spherical harmonics that affect the orbit
  • Present the azimuth and elevation on a polar plot
  • Place a surface map of Earth and Mars onto the sphere when displaying the reference object
If you're into this sort of thing, I recommend you check out the new Satellite Communication Toolbox. It makes use of the Satellite Scenario feature to perform various communication analyses. And of course there are plenty of goodies in the Aerospace Toolbox and Blockset.

Let us know what you think here or leave a comment for Huy.
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