The International Space Station orbits the earth every 90 minutes. If passes over you near dusk or dawn, it’s actually possible to see the ISS as it flys over you. There are several web sites available to find out when there will be visible passes in your area. One of the best ways to find out when there are visible passes coming up is a service on twitter called Twisst. It’s a subscription service that sends you a tweet a couple of hours before there will be a visible pass in your area.
To get notifications, twitter users have to do two things: 1)Put their location in their twitter profile and 2)follow the main @twisst account. That’s it, notifications, in the form of @ replies start flowing your direction. Unfortunately, because of the way that twisst sends out its notifications as @ replies, its accounts are getting blocked by Twitter as spammers. There are so many subscribers to Twisst that it has to use multiple accounts to send notifications. Since users only follow the main account and not the accounts sending the notifications, twitter is considering the accounts sending the notifications as spammers.
Twitter clamping down on spammers is an admirable thing, as it’s hard to avoid spam on twitter these days. But Twisst is NOT spam. It’s a useful service utilized by over 48,000 people across the globe. Twitter should be able to make this useful service work within its rules and keep us space geeks informed about visible ISS flyovers.
Here’s a useful rundown on the situation.
Here are some tweets of support from users of twisst:
@janellewilson: Knowing when a 17,500 mph orbital spacecraft races over yr house isn’t spam. It’s science & engineering & math & awesome
@gabrielleNYC: @twisst is not spam. It’s a great service that tells us when the
#ISS is passing overhead & is Opt In. #savetwisst
@thenasaman: Hey @Twitter. @twisst is NOT spam. They are actually a tool of science and inspiration. Please remove the suspension on their accounts