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  • Writer's picturevivek vardhan

Space Satellite: A Deep Dive into the Eyes and Ears of the Earth

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

Space satellites are objects that orbit around the Earth or other celestial bodies, such as the moon or planets. Space satellites can be natural, such as the moon, or artificial, such as the International Space Station (ISS). Space satellites can perform various functions and missions, such as communication, navigation, observation, exploration, research, etc. In this blog post, I will explain the history, types, and applications of space satellites, and how they shape our understanding and use of space. As a student of astronomy and a pro in space satellite, I am passionate about diving deep into this fascinating topic.

History of Space Satellites

The history of space satellites can be traced back to the 17th century, when Isaac Newton proposed the concept of an artificial satellite in his book Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica. Newton suggested that a cannonball fired horizontally from a high mountain could achieve a circular orbit around the Earth if it had enough speed to overcome gravity

However, it was not until the 20th century that the first artificial satellite was launched into space. On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, a metal sphere with four antennas that transmitted radio signals. Sputnik 1 was the first human-made object to orbit the Earth and sparked the beginning of the space race between the Soviet Union and the United States

Since then, thousands of artificial satellites have been launched into space for various purposes and missions. Some of the most notable ones include:

  • Explorer 1. The first US satellite, launched on January 31, 1958. Explorer 1 discovered the Van Allen radiation belts around the Earth3

  • Telstar 1. The first communication satellite, launched on July 10, 1962. Telstar 1 relayed the first live transatlantic television signals4

  • Luna 1. The first lunar satellite, launched on January 2, 1959. Luna 1 flew past the moon and became the first spacecraft to enter heliocentric orbit5

  • Vanguard 1. The oldest artificial satellite still in orbit, launched on March 17, 1958. Vanguard 1 was used to study the shape and density of the Earth6

  • Syncom 3. The first geostationary satellite, launched on August 19, 1964. Syncom 3 stayed in a fixed position above the equator and enabled global communication coverage.

  • Landsat 1. The first Earth observation satellite, launched on July 23, 1972. Landsat 1 provided images of the Earth’s surface for various applications, such as agriculture, forestry, geology, etc.

  • Voyager 1. The farthest artificial satellite from Earth, launched on September 5, 1977. Voyager 1 explored the outer planets and their moons and entered interstellar space in 2012.

  • Hubble Space Telescope. The most famous space telescope, launched on April 24, 1990. Hubble Space Telescope captured stunning images of the universe and made many discoveries in astronomy and cosmology.

  • International Space Station. The largest and most complex artificial satellite ever built, launched on November 20, 1998. International Space Station is a permanent human outpost in low Earth orbit that serves as a platform for scientific and commercial activities in space.

Types of Space Satellites

Space satellites can be classified into different types based on their orbit or function.

Based on their orbit, space satellites can be categorized into three main types: low Earth orbit (LEO), medium Earth orbit (MEO), and geostationary orbit (GEO).

  • Low Earth orbit (LEO) is an orbit between about 160 km (100 miles) and 2,000 km (1,200 miles) above the Earth’s surface. LEO satellites have a short orbital period of about 90 minutes and require less energy to launch and maintain than higher orbits. LEO satellites are used for various purposes

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