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Cross-Greenland Ski Trip Tracked with Google Maps 101

notmartinfrobisher writes "Around Guardian Mobility offices we have been excited to support an exploratory ski trip across Greenland. Anne Marte Pensgaard is skiing across Greenland with only a friend and some husky dogs for company. She has been outfitted with one of our Tracer units which has a GPS receiver and send data to our backoffice through Globalstars Low-earth orbit satellite network. We're tracking her progress using Google Maps and using MyGMaps. to map multiple points onto Google Map's satellite imagery. When asked about her trip Anne Marte wrote: "Our expedition consist of two phases. This year we (Marit and myself and 12 greenland huskies) are going to find a passage into the inland ice (the icecap itself) where we will be able to bring all the dogs and our sledges up on the ice. We will start in Ilulissat on the west coast and then travel north.(around 70degrees N) How far north we will go this year depends on the conditions. Our main expedition will be a more than 1000 km trip from Ilulissat to Qaanaq (Thule Air Base) in the north, either in 2006 or in 2007." We provided her with a Tracer unit set up to wake up every 30 minutes but to transmit only when she has moved at least 200m, this way she won't have to worry about turning off the unit when she's camping at night. We'll be updating you on this exciting trip by posting maps of her current location every couple of days. Maps and satellite imagery are courtesy Google Maps."
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Cross-Greenland Ski Trip Tracked with Google Maps

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  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 28, 2005 @12:01AM (#12368136)
    I had to use Google Maps to make it through that paragraph.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Really... nothing to see here... hike along
  • by _merlin ( 160982 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @12:06AM (#12368158) Homepage Journal
    I thought I read somewhere that because of the pitch of the GlobalStar satellites' orbits (they aren't quite polar), you get poor coverage near the poles. Or is this ski trip far enough from the pole to get good coverage.
  • They should do this with those AI driven cars carnegie mellon raced a year or two ago (hope they do that again) or stick one of these on Lance Armstrong.
  • by fourtyfive ( 862341 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @12:10AM (#12368177)
    Gee that wasnt blatant advertisement at all. I mean Come on the article is on the same page as the company that sells the freakin GPS unit.
    • Ad or not, it is a unique and interesting application of available off-the-shelf technology. I think it is interesting - but I used to race huskys too.
    • by XorNand ( 517466 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @12:31AM (#12368302)
      What's more, looks like the submitter [] created a /. account just to submit this story. ::rolls eyes::

      The Slashdot helped cement the term "astroturfing" in the public vernacular back in the late 90's--the irony is so sharp it almost hurts. Just another example of how media placement has become the new norm on the 'net, since that whole advertising experiment didn't quite work out as expected.
    • and from my experience with GPS it will suck.

      once your reciever has a fix everything is great and wonderful. and unless the GPS in the device is a high end one like found in the magellan gold/platinum/marine (and then it reduces fix time to only 2 minutes) it will take it almost 5 minutes to get a fix right after it wakes up. 5 odd minutes of operation every 30 minutes will suck down batteries fast. Coupled with trying to use a sattelite phone service that has no coverage in polar areas and we are looking
    • by cdunworth ( 166621 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @08:49AM (#12370261)
      Well, as long as we're just advertising in this thread....why not come by and try Earthcomber []! (I'm one of the engineers there...)

      We've built a free (as in beer) location finding utility with integrated mapping which runs on the PalmOS. Lets you mark spots out in the field (with or without GPS), then push them back to the mothership where you can share them with location-based interest groups in the Earthcomber Community area (think Yahoo Groups with maps). It's an early version, so we've got lots of issues (coverage area is US-only right now, our maps aren't the prettiest, the desired features list is a mile long, etc.).

      And technically, you don't even need a Palm to use the interest groups -- we let you mark and view spots right on the web. But the Palm makes it cooler. You could use this to keep a travel log, go geocaching, start a group for great photography spots -- whatever you want. Come on by and let us know what you think. We'd love to get feedback from tech savvy users.

    • Apart from possible advertising this is not new at all. Radio amateurs (yep, those again) have been doing this for years, and it is called APRS [] (automatic packet reporting system). At regular intervals or at the end of each voice transmission, a packet is sent to a special station collecting the data from all users and posting it on the web. Position should be supplied manually (boring) or with GPS.
    • I can go to Maui next month, will you sponsor my trip?
  • by Mr Ambersand ( 862402 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @12:12AM (#12368190) the president of Opera before he makes his big swim.
  • ...when our crown prince Prince Frederik [] took a 2,800 kilometres journey that lasted four months in 2000.

    In case you don't know, Greenland is danish territory, and Prince Frederik is the heir to the danish throne.

    • Now that's bad news on two seperate fronts. I'll remind the next Dane who complains to me about how bad Americans treat native Americans that they've yet to "unoppress" (or is that "UN oppress"?) their own aboriginal inhabitants.
      • I'll remind the next Dane who complains to me about how bad Americans treat native Americans that they've yet to "unoppress" (or is that "UN oppress"?) their own aboriginal inhabitants.

        I would not use that argument on somebody who knows about the oppression of the native population in Greenland. It will backfire.

        In fact one of the worst atrocities against the native population in Greenland was done after pressure from the US: In 1953 the native population was forced to relocate from Thule [] so that

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Holy shit, you're not even _trying_ to disguise these fuckin' things anymore, are ya? When did this turn into fuckin' "Ads for nerds, press releases that matter" anyhow?

    In conclusion, a hearty fuck you, and I hope you got a decent price for whatever was left of your journalistic integrity.
    • Though his choice of words were a little extreme, I agree with what he's saying. Has anyone else noticed the recent increase of articles []that are one step away from being paid advertisements? I think he's making a good point. I don't want to see /. turn into a subliminal messaging system.
    • Isn't pretty much everything posted to slashdot an advertisement?

      The latest gadgets, software, etc.

      The whole point of slashdot is to link to *other* people's sites. Does it matter if the owner of the site submitted it?

      Whenever we run a story that might interest the slashdot audience, we submit it. Whenever we run a strange or bizarre story, we submit it to fark.

      When linus posted his announcement on Linux 11 years ago, was he shamelessly exploiting newsgroups to advertise his project?
  • Dirty secret (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Maskirovka ( 255712 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @12:20AM (#12368231)
    Anne Marte Pensgaard is skiing across Greenland with only a friend and some husky dogs for company.

    Two words:
    Emergency Rations

    • Re:Dirty secret (Score:4, Informative)

      by flyingsquid ( 813711 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @01:32AM (#12368613)
      Worked for Roald Amundsen. He gets criticized for that, but his plan to eat half his dogs meant his men and the other half of the dogs got back alive. Scott, on the other hand, killed his men because he didn't know what he was doing.

      _Last Place on Earth_ tells the story (it's one of the best nonfiction books I've ever read). While it's pretty clear that the author has an axe to grind- he's very much an admirer of Amundsen and a detractor of Scott- from the facts he marshals, he makes a pretty strong case. Amundsen did everything possible to ensure victory; he had basically won before he even left camp. Scott did virtually everything he possibly could to ensure total failure. The guy even brought ponies to Antarctica. Thing is... ponies eat grass. And as you may have noticed, there's not a lot of that in Antarctica. Amundsen, on the other hand, knew what he was doing, because he learned from the world experts in arctic travel- the Eskimos.

      • Pierre Berton makes pretty much the same case regarding Arctic explorers in The Arctic Grail - those who studied the way the Inuit lived survived; those who wore silk shirts and took horses into the Arctic died.
      • Clearly you share the author's bias. It's a gross oversimplification to say that "Scott ... killed his men because he didn't know what he was doing". The truth us much more complicated than that. Without getting into a full defense of Scott, something I don't want to do as I don't subscribe to either of the two main camps (bungler or hero) and because it's off topic, Scott made what he though were the right decisons, though not all of them turned out to be so. Scott's inexperience was just one of many fac
    • >Two words:
      >Emergency Rations

      That's what the husky dogs are there for, no really.

  • Speeding (Score:3, Funny)

    by mollyhackit ( 693979 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @12:22AM (#12368243)
    I hope those skis aren't rentals, they could issue her a ticket based on this data.
  • I didn't RTFA, but this is reminiscent of a project that I've seen on recently. One of the main developers over there made a program that constantly updates his web server which gives anyone who's interested a real-time google map of the area that they are in.

    At the moment, the demo page even has a little speedometer set up, but it's rigged so that it shows random speeds (because it's late and the guy's car isn't actually moving and they just got it working) :)
    • I just spoke with some Google guys the other day, and it sounds like they have some plans in the works to offer an API for integration with Google Maps. They were impressed with the hacking that's been done on it already.

      I've got my own open source tracker [] project that uses the ham radio APRS system and I'd love to be able to point users to a Google Maps enabled site, rather than the fairly inadequate sites that are out there now.

    • Any chance of a link to that mp3car article? I had a quick look but couldn't find it.
    • Meh. The local 911 dispatch center has had that for cops for several years.
      • They've had it integrated with Google maps for several years???? Where do you live???
        • Not Google maps. They have some sort of map integrated with their computer-aided dispatching (CAD) system.

          Flint, Michigan, for your reference, but I expect a lot of other municipalities have the same system.
  • Tracking (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    While this IS increadibly cool to do, and helps ensure arrival, etc..... But what happens when something like this becomes mainstream? Parents logging into thier gmail account and clicking "maps", and boom, there kids last known locations pops up on the screen. Updated from the cell phone, or something you can hide in a bag or something....
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I see the links for the gps, but no links to anything actually showing her location, what the hell is going on? if your gonna spam us, at least give us something a bit interesting to click on.
  • Whow they used points on a map to track their progress ... What a mind blowing achievement!

    I'm sorry but I can't find anything remotely interresting about this article.
  • by switcha ( 551514 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @01:28AM (#12368592)
    we have been excited to support an exploratory ski trip across Greenland ... onto Google Map's satellite imagery.

    Maybe I'm a numbskull, but with Google Maps, I've done a full exploratory trip around my neighborhood; sidewalks, backyards, the whole shebang. Why not just call this out as a "publicity stunt" instead of calling it "exploring" the same snow and ice you can look at on a computer in front of a cozy fire with a hot chocolate?

  • by tgrigsby ( 164308 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @01:59AM (#12368704) Homepage Journal
    After reading that article, I turned to my daughter and solemnly informed her that before she can date, I will not only make sure her car as OnStar, but I will have one of these handy dandy GPS units surgically implanted in her hip. Then I can track her on Google maps. She asked, why both? Because the car might be where she says she's going to go, but her butt might be at the beach party I told her she couldn't attend. Better safe than sorry.

    • Ah hah.. now we have figured out why all the people in the future wear metallic clothing.. it's to block the signal to the GPS antennas!
    • Funny how privacy issues and personal liberties doesn't apply when dealing with your own kids... :)
      • Funny how privacy issues and personal liberties doesn't apply when dealing with your own kids... :)

        The only privacy and personal issues I seriously care about are MINE. Everyone else can fend for themselves.

        As far as kids go, the words "you're going to be a grandpa" overrule any privacy/personal liberties they may whine about!

      • My kids will get all of the personal liberty and privacy they want when I am no longer responsible for their behavior (that is, after they turn 18).
    • by Motherfucking Shit ( 636021 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @05:20AM (#12369450) Journal
      I will not only make sure her car as OnStar, but I will have one of these handy dandy GPS units surgically implanted in her hip. Then I can track her on Google maps.
      So can I, so I say go for it... :)
    • Good idea. And by having it implanted in her hip you can also extrapolate what she is doing, by monitoring her hips movement. Hell, you can even call her and point out that based on the speed of her hip's movement she should have had an orgasm by now.

      That should definitely give her a lesson ;-)

      Thank you.

  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @02:29AM (#12368844) Journal
    This is my friend's site (also in the .sig). He begins an around the world bike trip in July for a documentary and he has built one hell of a mapping routine for his site. []

    He's using NASA's data and Perl.
  • Qaanaaq = TAB? (Score:2, Informative)

    by qabi ( 166693 )

    ... from Ilulissat to Qaanaq (Thule Air Base) in the north ...

    Qaanaaq isn't Thule Air Base, it's 180 km. away.

    Thule Air Base is also called Pituffik.

    Impressive area though. I wish these people the best of luck with their trip. It looks like they'll need it...


  • ... to find and recover the body.

  • I wonder when Google will just go full out and create free satelite tracking software. You can look at it from the Tin-foil hat view or the Silver Lining view. From the good point of view, we are seeing situations were people or groups would find it VERY cool to be tracked live via satelites. Defining the legality would be a pain, but consider going on a camping trip and having family members being able to check on you at any time to see you are all right, or expeditions like this one have people to trac
  • This immediately reminded me of Genly Ai and Estraven's epic trip across the ice field of Gethen. Damnit, I really liked that book :)
  • Anyone else click on the link and try to set up an account? I mean, this is waaaaaay more exclusive than a gmail account was last year. It's still in alpha and to my knowledge has not been mentioned on /. before. Hey google, let me have my account! Not that I'll do anything useful with it or anything...
  • I've always thought it must be a fairly easy task to couple a GPS with a cell phone to produce a vehicle tracker that you can embed in your car. Since all you're really doing is forwarding one serial port to another (with a bit of fiddling in the middle) this could probably be done via a VERY basic computer (eg a PIC of some sort). I dont' really have the time or expertise to do this myself, but I'd love to know if anyone has posted plans or has made their own vehicle tracker and is willing to tell the worl
  • by kbmccarty ( 575443 ) <kmccarty AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday April 28, 2005 @09:04AM (#12370386) Journal

    Greenland is horribly distorted on the satellite images (it doesn't exist in the normal map view) due to the map projection used. Which brings up a pet peeve of mine -- why don't any of the online map companies convert to the most appropriate map projection for any given region? This shouldn't be too hard. It's very annoying to see the huge horizontal stretching distortions in maps of Alaska and Canada.

    • Why do they convert to a global projection at all? shouldn't the raw images be sufficient to describe the terrain directly below the satellite from the pov of directly above that terrain? If anything, they should be using a spherical projection since it's unlikely there will be significant curvature in the small portion you would be looking at at any time.
  • by slim ( 1652 )
    It really irritates me that there is no scale indicated on Google Maps.

    On less populated parts of the US, it's all but impossible to guage the distance between features.
  • This reminds me of an old joke:

    Two guys are bumming around with almost no money and no obvious prospects for entertaining themselves. A says: "How much money do we have?" B: "Five bucks." A: "Give it to me, I'll go to the store, and see if I can't find something fun--anything--for us to do." B: "Alright." A goes to the store, and comes back twenty minutes later, in an obvious state of happy agitation. B says: "What did you get?" A says: "We are so set, dude. I got a box of tampons!" B blinks his eyes a

  • I really didn't expect to see such a graphic proof of Paul Graham's article so quickly. [] 4 []

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