The Main Types of Satellite Orbits: The Basics You Should Know

The Main Types of Satellite Orbits: The Basics You Should Know

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Satellite OrbitsPhoto by user Pixabay

You’ve long been fascinated with satellites, but you’re not exactly sure how they move.

The reality is, how satellites move have a lot to do with their unique functions in society. Fortunately, we make it easy to understand the orbits that satellites take.

Here’s a rundown on the main types of satellite orbits you should know.

Let’s get started!

Types of Satellite Orbits Include Geostationary Orbits

A basic type of satellite orbit is the geostationary orbit, also known as a synchronous or geosynchronous orbit. With this orbit, your satellite remains positioned in one spot on the earth. This is possible because geostationary orbits’ speeds match the rotation of the earth.

Several geostationary satellites can be found over a band located along the earth’s equator. Their altitude is more than 22,000 miles, or around 1/10 of the distance between the moon and the earth.

This band is, in fact, filled with hundreds of satellites. For this reason, it has actually been called a parking strip for satellites.

Because so many satellites are located in this area, all of the satellites have to be positioned accurately. This prevents interference between the signals of satellites located near each other.

Note that communication, weather, and television satellites all utilize geostationary orbits. In fact, because your television satellite remains in the same position, your satellite television dish is usually bolted down in a specific position.

Satellites that utilize geostationary orbits can be used for earth observation purposes as well.

See here for more information about how satellites work together to give you valuable information.

Asynchronous and Synchronous Orbits

An asynchronous orbit is one where a satellite passes overhead at various times during the day. A space shuttle uses this type of orbit.

Other satellites that utilize this type of orbit have altitudes as high as 400 miles.

Polar Orbits

With polar orbits, satellites usually fly at low altitudes and pass over the earth’s poles during each revolution.

A satellite that uses a polar orbit stays fixed while the earth is rotating inside this orbit. In light of this, a large part of the earth passes underneath a satellite that uses a polar orbit.

One kind of this orbit is a sun-synchronous orbit. With this orbit, a satellite essentially has synchronicity with the sun. In other words, it passes over a region of the earth at the very same time each day.

Since polar orbits cover the planet well, they are frequently utilized for satellites designed to do photography and mapping. Satellites that use these orbits are also helpful for providing reconnaissance, observing the earth long term, measuring the conditions of the atmosphere, and tracking the weather.

How We Can Help

In addition to highlighting the chief types of satellite orbits, we offer the latest information on various subjects that impact the community.

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