Different Types of Satellite Orbits

The satellite’s orbit is a critical component of its function. Basically, there are 3 kinds of satellite orbits, which depend on its position relative to the surface of the Earth. These are:

Geostationary orbit
A satellite on a geostationary or geosynchronous orbit stays in the same spot relative to Earth. It flies at an altitude of about 35,790 km, orbiting with the planet in the same direction. This is why to people on the ground, it looks like the satellite is stationary.

There are many geostationary satellites located over the Equator, which causes congestion of the area. To prevent signal interference, precise positioning of each satellite is ensured prior to launching.

Geosynchronous satellites are often used to monitor weather events or transmit television and communications signals.

Polar orbits
Satellites on polar orbits circle the planet on a near-polar inclination, maintaining an altitude of at least 700 km. These satellites pass over the equator at the same solar time every single day, which allows it to collect data consistently. A satellite flying on a polar orbit is generally on a low elevation, passing over the poles each time it revolves. This type of satellite offers the best views of the planet, particularly of areas that are often difficult to cover. Polar orbiting satellites are generally used for photography and mapping.

Asynchronous orbit
A satellite on an asynchronous orbit flies at a lower altitude of approximately 644 km, passing over the planet during different times. They may be used for a variety of functions, such as photography, mapping, observing environmental changes and locating deposits of important minerals.

Predicting satellite orbits
Satellites utilize different light-sensitive sensors to calculate their positions. These calculations are then transmitted to a ground station. There is a type of software that may be used to predict and locate an orbiting satellite. Using Keplerian data, the software can forecast the location of a satellite at a particular location.

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