Satellites: Orbits and Missions

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Share this. Read more Rocket Lab successfully launches eighth Electron mission, takes next step in recovery and reuse for future flights.

Three Classes of Orbit

It's not only going to launch our own satellite but also those from other nations. Uniqueness of this mission is, it's going to place satellites in 3 different orbits.


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PSLV, also used in India's two key missions, "Chandrayan" in and Mars Orbiter in , is a reliable and versatile launch vehicle for ISRO with 39 consecutive successful flights till June, and five-in-a-row from January The rocket has encountered only two failures so far, its maiden developmental flight ended unsuccessful way back in As the name suggests, they survey the land.

Landsat 7, which is one of the big land surveying satellite programmes, tends to be in Sun-synchronous orbits, which means that they always get the same lighting conditions every time of day.

Manoeuvers

Scientists can use all that additional data to learn more about the land underneath them. CryoSat-2 is at the moment the only satellite which is solely dedicated for ice research. CryoSat-2 is a fairly small satellite because it is a very specialised satellite mission, and the main instrument is an improved version of a radar altimeter, which can measure the surface elevation at a much higher accuracy than previous radar altimeters.

And very important for an accurate measurement of surface elevation is the position of the satellite, and therefore there is a second important instrument on this satellite, which actually measures very accurately the position of the orbit. The satellites flies with the ground speed of about 7 kilometres per second.

Types of orbits

So along this drag, we get sea ice thickness measurements, which are about 1 kilometre wide along that orbit, and those orbits are separated by several kilometres from one orbit pass to the next. And what those satellites do is look at signals from the GPS satellites. And by knowing the time, and we know that the fact of the speed of light is a constant, we can work out the distance, and therefore our distance is a curved path rather than a straight path, and the level of curvature of the path tells us about the temperature, because refraction is controlled by the temperature of the atmosphere.

What is a low-Earth orbit? What speed do things move at in low-Earth orbit? It varies depending on how high you are.

ISRO's PSLV C45 places DRDO defence satellite EMISAT along with 28 nano satellites in orbit

We use low-Earth orbiting satellites for a wide range of things. A lot of science missions tend to be down in those kind of orbits. Low-Earth orbits have the advantage that you get to see a lot of the Earth, but you get to see it up close.

A polar orbit is a low-Earth orbit in which the satellite crosses over both poles on each revolution. On this pathway, the satellites cross over the poles and in a north-south direction on the equators, and this has certain advantages especially for Earth observation. But for polar orbits, satellites fly very low. What application do polar orbits have? Well, basically anything where you want to be able to see the whole Earth, so scientific satellites use them quite a lot because they can see all of the ocean or all the continents and take measurements of them.

Performance Analysis of Satellite Missions for Multi-Temporal SAR Interferometry

Some weather satellites and some disaster monitoring satellites, like that. Low-Earth orbits are orbits between about kilometres and kilometres. Most higher orbits tend to be around 36, kilometres.

Not many satellites use medium-Earth orbits. Either we want to be in a low-Earth orbit so we can see the Earth in detail or we want to be up high.

ISRO: In a mission of many firsts, ISRO puts defence satellite EMISAT, 28 other satellites in orbit

One of the things that does use medium-Earth orbit is the global positioning system or GPS. Now one way to do that would be put huge numbers of satellites up there, another way would be to make sure that the satellites are moving in a way that you can have just a few satellites up there and still be able to get four overhead at all times. And it turns out that around about 20, kilometres altitude works well for that.