XPlanet renders an Earth globe including actual clouds and satellites' positions. It also has data to render the moon, mars or the sun. You can even put the image on your Desktop so that it shows the current Earth view from space instead of a boring wallpaper.

To make things a bit easier, there's this Python script which handles downloading new cloudmaps and updating the image. I re-wrote that thing to pure Bash:

handle-xplanet.sh

{% highlight bash %}

!/bin/sh

Script for using xplanet in Gnome

made after http://ubuntuforums.org/showpost.php?p=259290&postcount=10

XPlanet configuration

BODY="-body earth -latitude 52.51667 -longitude 13.41667" SCREEN="-geometry 2560x1024 -center +1920+512 -radius 75" STARS="-starmap /usr/share/xplanet/stars/BSC -marker_file /usr/share/xplanet/markers/brightStars -arc_file /usr/share/xplanet/arcs/constellations"

other configuration

TMPDIR="/tmp" PREFIX="xplanet-" ORIGINAL="${TMPDIR}/${PREFIX}original.png" OPTIONS="-config /opt/xplanet/xplanet.conf $BODY $SCREEN $STARS -ephemeris_file ephemeris/unxp1800.406" TIMING="-wait 300 -hibernate 600"

if [ $# -gt 0 ]; then

Update data

./update-cloudmap.sh
./update-satellites.sh

# Update picture
for f in ${TMPDIR}/${PREFIX}background-*.png; do
    rm $f
done
TIME=`date +"%s"`
BGFILE="${TMPDIR}/${PREFIX}background-${TIME}.png"
mv $ORIGINAL $BGFILE
# set background picture
gconftool-2 -t str -s /desktop/gnome/background/picture_filename ""
sleep 1
gconftool-2 -t str -s /desktop/gnome/background/picture_filename "$BGFILE"
# following line is for Compiz
# dbus-send --print-reply --type=method_call --dest=org.freedesktop.compiz /org/freedesktop/compiz/cube/screen0/backgrounds org.freedesktop.compiz.set array:string:"$BGFILE"

else

Initialize

/usr/bin/nice -19 /usr/bin/xplanet $TIMING -output "$ORIGINAL" $OPTIONS -post_command "/opt/xplanet/handle-xplanet.sh update"

fi

{% endhighlight %}

This script makes use of the following two helper scripts.

update-cloudmap.sh

{% highlight bash %}

!/bin/sh

CLOUDFILE="clouds.jpg" URLLIST="update-cloudmap.lst" UPDATE=$((36060))

URL=head -n 2 $URLLIST | tr "\n" " " NOW=date +"%s" MTIME=stat -c "%Y" $CLOUDFILE DIFF=$((NOW - MTIME))

. ./colors.sh

echo "${BOLD}Cloudmap$NORMAL is $BOLD$BLUE$DIFF$NORMAL seconds old (outdated after $UPDATE)."

DOUPDATE=0 if [ ! -e $CLOUDFILE ]; then echo "$BOLD${RED}File not found.$NORMAL" DOUPDATE=1 fi

if [ $DIFF -ge $UPDATE ]; then echo "$BOLD${YELLOW}File is outdated.$NORMAL" DOUPDATE=1 fi

if [ "$1" = "-f" ]; then echo "$BOLD${GREEN}Update forced.$NORMAL" DOUPDATE=1 fi

if [ $DOUPDATE = 1 ]; then aria2c $URL --allow-overwrite=true -o $CLOUDFILE

{% endhighlight %}

This one reads the URL to download from a file update-cloudmap.lst:

http://userpage.fu-berlin.de/~jml/clouds_4096.jpg
http://www.ruwenzori.net/earth/clouds_4096.jpg
http://www.narrabri.atnf.csiro.au/operations/NASA/clouds_4096.jpg
http://userpage.fu-berlin.de/~jml/clouds_2048.jpg
http://rcswww.urz.tu-dresden.de/~es179238/clouds_2048.jpg
http://xplanet.dyndns.org/clouds/clouds_2048.jpg
http://www.ruwenzori.net/earth/clouds_2048.jpg
http://xplanet.arculeo.com/clouds_2048.jpg
http://xplanet.sourceforge.net/clouds/clouds_2048.jpg
ftp://mirror.pacific.net.au/xplanet/clouds_2048.jpg
http://www.narrabri.atnf.csiro.au/operations/NASA/clouds_2048.jpg
http://home.megapass.co.kr/~gitto88/cloud_data/clouds_2048.jpg
http://home.megapass.co.kr/~holywatr/cloud_data/clouds_2048.jpg
http://home.megapass.co.kr/~ysy00/cloud_data/clouds_2048.jpg
http://user.chol.com/~winxplanet/cloud_data/clouds_2048.jpg
ftp://ftp.iastate.edu/pub/xplanet/clouds_2048.jpg
http://xplanet.explore-the-world.net/clouds_2048.jpg

update-satellites.sh

{% highlight bash %}

!/bin/sh

TLEFILE="satellites/iss+.tle" UPDATE=$((126060))

FILES="stations.txt science.txt" BASEURL="http://www.celestrak.com/NORAD/elements/" NOW=date +"%s" MTIME=stat -c "%Y" $TLEFILE DIFF=$((NOW - MTIME))

URLS="" for f in $FILES; do URLS="$URLS $BASEURL$f" done

. ./colors.sh

echo "${BOLD}Satellite$NORMAL data is $BOLD$BLUE$DIFF$NORMAL seconds old (outdated after $UPDATE)."

DOUPDATE=0 if [ ! -e $TLEFILE ]; then echo "$BOLD${RED}File not found.$NORMAL" DOUPDATE=1 fi

if [ $DIFF -ge $UPDATE ]; then echo "$BOLD${YELLOW}File is outdated.$NORMAL" DOUPDATE=1 fi

if [ "$1" = "-f" ]; then echo "$BOLD${GREEN}Update forced.$NORMAL" DOUPDATE=1 fi

if [ $DOUPDATE = 1 ]; then wget -O $TLEFILE $URLS

aria2c $URL --allow-overwrite=true -o $TLEFILE

{% endhighlight %}

colors.sh

This is a helper script which provides ANSI colors through variables.

{% highlight bash %}

!/bin/sh

TPUT=/usr/bin/tput NORMAL=$TPUT sgr0 BOLD=$TPUT bold BLINK=$TPUT blink RED=$TPUT setaf 1 GREEN=$TPUT setaf 2 YELLOW=$TPUT setaf 3 BLUE=$TPUT setaf 4 MAGENTA=$TPUT setaf 5 CYAN=$TPUT setaf 6 WHITE=$TPUT setaf 7

{% endhighlight %}

get-ephemeris.sh

This script has to be run only once since the ephemeris is valid for several years.

{% highlight bash %}

!/bin/sh

wget -r ftp://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/pub/eph/export/unix/* -P ephemeris/ --no-passive-ftp -nd -c

{% endhighlight %}

xplanet.conf

Finally the configuration file for XPlanet: xplanet.conf.

{% highlight ini %}

This file contains options you might want to customize for each

body. It's best to leave this file alone and modify a copy. Use the

-config option to tell xplanet to read your copy.

[default] # Values in this section apply to all

bodies unless overridden below.

arc_color=gray

arc_file=

bump_map=

bump_scale=1

cloud_gamma=1

cloud_map=

cloud_ssec=false # true if the cloud map is from the

University of Wisconsin Space

            # Science and Engineering Center 

cloud_threshold=90

color={255,255,255} # fallback color in case an image map

isn't found

draw_orbit=false # if true, draw this body's orbit

about its primary

grid=false grid1=6 grid2=15

image=

magnify=1 # draw the body as if its radius were

magnified by this factor

marker_color=yellow

marker_file=

marker_font=

marker_fontsize=8

max_radius_for_label=3 # don't draw a label if the body's

radius in pixels is more than this

min_radius_for_label=.01 # don't draw a label if the body's

radius in pixels is less than this

min_radius_for_markers=40 # don't draw markers if the body's

radius in pixels is less than this

night_map=

orbit={-.5,.5,2} # extent of orbit to draw,

{start, end, delta}, where

                            # start and end are in units of period
            # of revolution and delta is angular
            # increment in degrees to evaluate
            # position 

orbit_color={255,255,255} # color for the orbit

random_origin=true # Can this body be considered if

-origin random is used?

random_target=true # Can this body be considered if

-target random is used?

satellite_file=

shade=30 # 0 = black, 100 = same as dayside

specular_map=

text_color={255,0,0} # color for text (markers & body label)

twilight=6 # blend the day and night images for

pixels within this many degrees of

                            # the terminator 

[sun] "Sun" color={255,255,166} max_radius_for_label=0 # never draw a label for the sun shade=100 # No night side! map=maps/sun/map.jpg

[mercury] "Mercury" color={100, 100, 100}

min_radius_for_label=0 # always draw a label

[venus] "Venus" color={161, 129, 70}

min_radius_for_label=0

[earth] "Earth" color={28, 82, 110}

cloud_map=clouds.jpg bump_map=maps/earth/bump.jpg map=maps/earth/map.jpg night_map=maps/earth/night.jpg

I have day and night maps of Australia centered on Alice Springs,

which are cropped from higher resolution maps.

map=alice_springs.png

night_map=alice_springs_night.png

mapbounds={-1.2,98.7107,-46.2,169.023} # lat1, lon1, lat2, lon2

marker_file=capitals.mark

marker_file=earth

min_radius_for_label=0

satellite_file=satellites/iss+

[moon] "Moon" color={100, 100, 100} map=maps/moon/map.jpg bump_map=maps/moon/bump.jpg marker_file=moon

[mars] "Mars" color={172, 123, 67} map=maps/mars/map.jpg min_radius_for_label=0 marker_file=mars

[phobos] "Phobos"

[deimos] "Deimos"

[jupiter] "Jupiter" color={204, 163, 133} min_radius_for_label=0

[io] "Io" color={212, 182, 52}

[europa] "Europa" color={140, 140, 140}

[ganymede] "Ganymede" color={150, 150, 150}

[callisto] "Callisto" color={70, 70, 70}

[saturn] "Saturn" color={244, 199, 134} min_radius_for_label=0

[mimas] "Mimas"

[enceladus] "Enceladus"

[tethys] "Tethys"

[dione] "Dione"

[rhea] "Rhea"

[titan] "Titan"

color={252,94,7}

[hyperion] "Hyperion"

[iapetus] "Iapetus"

[phoebe] "Phoebe"

[uranus] "Uranus"

color={105, 197, 238}

min_radius_for_label=0

[miranda] "Miranda"

[ariel] "Ariel"

[umbriel] "Umbriel"

[titania] "Titania"

[oberon] "Oberon"

[neptune] "Neptune" color={95, 133, 232}

min_radius_for_label=0

[triton] "Triton"

[nereid] "Nereid"

[pluto] "Pluto" color={206, 180, 153}

min_radius_for_label=0

[charon] "Charon"

{% endhighlight %}