Track an object in space

Get the code


The skies above us are filled with satellites, many of which enrich our science and understanding of the Earth with data about the weather, climate, natural phenomena, and human activity. We can find and monitor some of these satellites easily by building a web UI that uses tools such as Node-RED and IBM Watson Assistant. This code pattern demonstrates how to do just that, explaining how to build the web UI — and providing a foundation for any developer to build and improve on.


Looking into space from Earth, you can see stars, planets, and the occasional passing overhead of the International Space Station. But, Earth’s orbit is actually crowded with thousands of satellites that you can’t see with the naked eye. So, what do you do if you want to track them? Easy. You build your own web UI.

This code pattern shows you how to build a satellite tracker that uses Node-RED and IBM Watson technologies. The web UI accesses a Node-RED app that runs on IBM Cloud, processes the information, performs HTTP requests, and returns position information from satellites orbiting the earth. Additionally, a flow is created for connecting a Watson Assistant chatbot with a node-red-contrib-satellites node, as well as a web UI and world map node.

When you have completed this code pattern, you’ll understand how to:

  • Build a complex flow and web UI using simple Node-RED tools.
  • Implement a chatbot with Watson Assistant and embed it on a web page with Node-RED.
  • Get satellite information for the International Space Station (ISS) and use it in a web app.



  1. Interact with web UI to ask the chatbot “Where is the ISS?”
  2. The web UI communicates with Node-RED running on IBM Cloud.
  3. The Node-RED app running on the cloud processes the information and performs HTTP requests.
  4. Satellites orbiting the earth send position information that is streamed to the Node-RED module.


Ready to put this code pattern to use? Complete details on how to get started running and using this application are in the README.