We know that satellites orbit Earth and other
bodies, but what orbits are we talking about? Thatís the problem. We
donít know what orbit we are talking about. There are a lot, but we
are only going to explain a few. The
orbits that we are going to explain are Geosynchronous, Elliptical, and
Low Earth Orbit(LEO).
Geosynchronous orbit is when a satellite stays in the same spot. It is mostly used for weather reports, relaying signals, and air pollution alerts. When in Geosynchronous orbit the accuracy is from 0.00001 inch(1/10,000ths of an inch) to 0.000001 inch (1/100,000ths of an inch). It can pinpoint the Capitol building in Washington DC from all the way up there! Geosynchronous or geostationary orbit in which a satellite travels 22,300 miles (35,888 km) above Earth, completes on orbit in 24 hours, and remains over one spot on Earth. This kind of orbit is very, very useful today.
Elliptical orbit is when a satellite moves in an oval-like or circle-like orbit. The planet Pluto moves in an elliptical orbit, just like a satellite in that kind of orbit! An elliptical orbit is the most natural orbit ever. Elliptical orbits may be caused by changes in the gravity of a planet. But we donít exactly know the causes.
LEO is unnatural. LEO means Low Earth Orbit. Like Geo, LEO is mainly used for weather research. It is also used for earth research. LEO is not like other orbits. When in LEO, the satellite orbits within a few hundred miles of Earth, starting at an altitude of about 100 miles(161 km).
Right now, there are about 2,300-2,400 satellites currently orbiting Earth. Satellites orbit at approximately 700-1700 mph (about 1,126-2700 km/h). Some satellites orbit in 90 minutes or less! The range is from 1 day to 2 hrs. for other satellites.
That is it for this section, so move on!
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