July 5, 2011 at 8:05 PM ET
This week's final space shuttle mission is carrying the first iPhone to go into orbit, so it's only fitting that there's a free app for iPhones and iPads that will help us earthbound types track the shuttle Atlantis and the International Space Station as they fly.
The GoAtlantis app is being offered by Canada-based GoSoftWorks, which sells the GoSkyWatch planetarium app and the GoSatWatch satellite-tracking app. GoAtlantis is a free sample of sorts — basically, it's a version of GoSatWatch that's limited to tracking the station and shuttle.
"The GoAtlantis app features real-time tracking of Atlantis with multiple map and sky views, time-lapse control and easy GPS setup or by using a city list," GoSoftWorks founder Richard Hein is quoted as saying in an iTWire report about the app. "Both visible and 24-hour pass predictions are available with alert notifications."
Atlantis is scheduled for launch at 11:26 a.m. ET Friday, and the current plan calls for a landing on July 20. But the space station has been in orbit for years, and GoAtlantis should be able to give you a fix on the space station for a long time to come. You don't really need an app for that: Websites maintained by NASA, Heavens-Above and SpaceWeather.com, among others, can tell you where and when to look for the space station. But it's so much easier when you can just point your phone skyward.
By the way, if you want to look for the space station and other satellites using an Android phone, there are apps for that, too. If you have a favorite mobile-phone app of any flavor, feel free to share it in a comment below.
Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page or following @b0yle on Twitter. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.