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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Satellites, More Than Just a Broadcasting Machine

Satellites have evolved from the clunky Fiat Uno (Sputnik) into the Bugatti of the modern era. Companies and government services are pushing themselves to bring out sophisticated and technologically advanced models, every new addition gives them the upper hand, be it in warfare, reconnaissance, commerce or navigation.

Killer Satellites

Modern warfare has made it possible for missiles and warheads to travel great distances over the world. These killer satellites take out enemy satellites, warheads and other dangerous space assets. A kinetic energy weapon was tested on a 1 ton satellite orbiting at 525 km altitude. The satellite successfully destroyed the 1 tonner and blew it into 1cm pieces. This was in 1985. Who knows what they have up there now. If we can take a guess, it could range from energy weapons, particle weapons, nuclear weapons, kinetic weapons and conventional weapons. Who knows, maybe they use all of them at the same time, who knows what the military is cooking up.

Syncom, the First Geosynchronous Satellite - G...Image via Wikipedia

Navigational Satellites

Navigational satellites were designed to help ships, submarines, aircraft and other vehicles to constantly get information regarding their current location with great accuracy. Navigational satellites are used for GPS models, as well as fleet management for companies who need to keep an eye on their cargo. They are becoming increasingly accurate, with newer navigational satellites on the market and navigational software available.

Communication Satellites

Communication satellites are satellites stationed in space for the purpose of telecommunications. Modern communications satellites are typically placed into three different orbits:

Geosynchronous orbits

A geosynchronous orbit has an orbital period of 23 hours 56 minutes and 4 seconds. This orbit, circumventing the Earth, follows the orbit of one sidereal day, which copies the Earth’s sidereal rotation period. With this synchronization, you will notice that the satellite will return to the exact same position after one sidereal day.

SBIRS High GEOImage via Wikipedia

Molniya orbits  

Molniya orbits have a highly elliptical orbit (63.4 degrees), an argument of perigee of -90 degrees and an orbital period of one half of sidereal day. The Russians have been using this type of orbit since the 1960’s and that is why it is named after a series of Russian/Soviet Molniya communication satellites.

Illustration couverture orbite de MolniyaImage via Wikipedia

Low Earth orbits.

A low Earth orbit (LEO) is a type of orbit which extends from the locus extending from the Earth’s surface up to an altitude of 2,000 km. Orbital decay can occur below 200 km and that is why LEO ranges from 160 kilometers to 2,000 kilometers

Reconnaissance Satellites

These satellites are the ones you hear of in James Bond movies and military excursions. They are observational satellites than can zoom in on the Earth and give a clear picture of someone’s freckle. The government and “secret societies” keep the power of their reconnaissance satellites a secret, so that they can keep the upper hand. These satellites are mainly used for military and intelligence applications, but have been utilized by Google in the creation of a social media product, Google Earth.

Ruan Smit is an experienced copywriter who enjoys writing about where technology meets logistics with topics like fleet management and vehicle tracking.

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