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Satellites are essential tools in today’s modern world; they help us communicate with people, explore other planets, and control Earth.
They have been beneficial to the advancement of science and technology and to the day to day life of the average man.
There’s a lot to know about satellites, but in this article you’ll learn the basics.
What are satellites?
Satellites are objects that orbit around another object much larger than themselves. There are two types of satellites; Natural and Artificial.
Natural satellites are objects that are in orbit but not man-made. What is really important to us is the artificial ones.
Artificial satellites are intentionally manufactured and placed into orbit by man. They serve several purposes. This write-up will focus only on artificial satellites.
A brief history of satellites
Sputnik 1 was the first artificial satellite to be launched, and was made by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957, as part of the Sputnik program headed by Sergei Korolev. He was the chief designer of the satellite.
Uses of satellites
Provide signals for television networks Used for navigation systems Satellites allow us to know the weather Satellites observe the Earth Observe space
Examples of satellites
Landsat Sentinel Earth EnviSAT Corona Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) mission
Now for some fun facts about satellites
Satellites move up to 18,000 miles per hour. This means that satellites can travel around the Earth 14 times in a day. More than 4,550 satellites orbit the Earth. Satellites are rarely destroyed by meteors because they can avoid them. Elon Musk’s SpaceX owns the most satellites (1,655)
For more interesting facts about satellites, check this out infographic prepared by Dewesoft.
How satellites work
See how satellites work by understanding how designers make them, how they are launched and maintained in orbit, and the mechanisms that power them.
How are satellites made?
Satellites have seven essential parts that work together to achieve results. These are:
This is the satellite frame to which all other parts are attached.
This is the part that generates electricity. Some use solar panels, and batteries also store energy when on the dark side of Earth.
Heat control system
Satellites are exposed to very high temperatures from the sun, and this compartment serves to reflect the heat away from them, so it does not affect their functions.
This is the satellite control part and how it works. It is also known as the brain of the satellite.
This component sends and receives data to Earth stations and other satellites. The curved dishes act as antennae.
Altitude control system
This keeps the satellite at the correct altitude and heading.
A propulsion system
Small rockets are attached to satellites that are used whenever a satellite needs to change orbit.
Vibration analysis observes the various vibration signal patterns on satellites to check for abnormal vibrations and determine the overall health of the satellite.
How are satellites launched?
Satellites are launched via rockets or space shuttles; the scientists will put them on the loading dock.
They place the rocket vertically at first. This allows the rocket to pass through the denser layers of the Earth’s terrestrial atmosphere, reducing fuel consumption.
How satellites stay in orbit
To understand how satellites stay in orbit, think of satellites as projectiles with only one force acting on them: the gravitational pull of the planets. A satellite must go at a minimum speed of 8 km per second; anything below it would cause it to fall and crash.
There are two main accepted orbit zones around the Earth.
Low Earth Orbit
The ISS orbits in this area, where the space shuttle does all its work. All human-related missions (that is, missions that involve humans going into space) occur in this orbit.
This is the most conducive place for communication satellites to be hosted/used. This is an area a few miles above the center of the Earth (the equator). This altitude makes it possible for the satellites to stay at the same point with respect to the Earth.
Other orbits are the medium Earth orbit and the high elliptical orbit.
Satellites have been central to the progression of mankind over the years and will continue to be an essential aspect of our lives in the future. Thanks to technologies such as propulsion and vibration analysisscientists continue to find more uses for these facilities.