You are on page 1of 8

what are the forces acting on a satellite in

*
:orbit
- Essentially there is only one force acting on the
geostationary satellite... gravity pulling it down to Earth. It
doesn't fall though because it has a velocity that is great
enough to prevent this from occuring. In otherwords, as
the satellite moves forwards it is pulled towards the
planet.
- If there no forces acting then the satellite would continue
in a straight line away from the planet... Newton's First
Law of motion. If the satellite did not have this forward
motion then it would simply fall to the planet.
- (i.e. There is essentially only one force acting on a
geostationary satellite, gravity causes it to have a curved
path rather than continue in a straight line(Newton's Law).
- The direction of the velocity and force act in such a way
that the satellite follows a curved (circular) path around a
planet. The fact that the direction changes (and hence
velocity changes) tells you that there must be a resultant
force acting on the satellite... Newton's Second Law of
motion. The mass of the planet is what provides the
force ... a gravitational force.

and stay in a fixed position above the . gravity and circular motion * Gravity is a force of attraction between masses.:Satellites. It provides the centripetal force needed to keep a satellite in orbit around a planet. Geostationary satellites are used for communications. or a planet in orbit around a star such as the Sun.

a force has to act on it all the time This force is called the centripetal force.force The force of gravity between two objects with small masses like a table and a chair is small because the objects are.gravitational pull would make it fall to Earth The forward speed. The greater the mass involved.gravitational force :Satellites – Higher tier << Artificial satellites are continually accelerating towards the Earth. the satellite will fall # .to Earth if the tangential motion is too fast. For an object to . Gravity is the centripetal force that keeps planets moving around the Sun.move in a circle.moving around planets Gravity is the universal force of attraction between masses. However. large objects like planets have a much greater mass and so have a much greater .Earth’s surface. of a satellite :must be just right to keep the satellite in orbit if the tangential motion is too slow. and satellites .travel away into space .the Earth :Centripetal force and gravity << A moving object will continue to move in a straight line at the same speed unless a force acts on it. or tangential motion. the Earth’s . It acts towards the centre of the circle. the satellite will # . If a satellite stopped moving forwards. Low polar orbit satellites are closer to the ground. and are used for weather forecasting and imaging . the greater the . This is because of the gravitational force of attraction between the satellite and the Earth.

This produces a lower centripetal acceleration. travelling at the speed of light. Applications of this technology include determining a position on the Earth.speed must be less *:geostationary (geosynchronous) orbit An orbit in which a satellite appears to remain in the same spot in the sky all the time. When a satellite is in geostationary orbit. so the tangential speed .Artificial satellites in lower orbits travel faster than ] .must be high A geostationary satellite is further from the ground. Geostationary satellites are always located directly above the equator. A satellite in geostationary orbit is very high up. or . at 35 850 km above the Earth. This produces a high centripetal acceleration. so the gravitational attraction is strong. and altitude) of something on the Earth by measuring the time it takes for the satellite's radio transmissions. it travels at exactly the same speed as the Earth is rotating below it. longitude. to reach the a receiver on the ground. The area with which a satellite in geostationary orbit can communicate is called its . measuring the Earth's movement after an earthquake. so the tangential .locating drop points for airlifted relief supplies . so the gravitational attraction is weaker.footprint *:Global Positioning System (GPS) A satellite technology that uses mathematics to calculate the position in three dimensions (latitude.[those in higher orbits A satellite in low polar orbit is close to the ground. It requires a fleet of satellites in space.

Basically. then the string would act as the gravity. Without the string. The orbit is a combination of the satellite's velocity . the yo-yo ball would fly .A satellite's orbit works because of a balance between two forces. There is a long string that holds the weight of the yo-yo ball at the end.and the force of the Earth's gravitational pull on the satellite. These forces are similar to the forces that keep all the planets in their places in the solar system.the satellite back to Earth To illustrate this concept.the speed it is travelling in a straight line . If you swung that yo-yo in a circle. think of a yo-yo. gravity keeps the satellite's velocity from sending the satellite flying out in a straight line away from the Earth. and your hand holding the end of the string is the Earth (not to scale of course). That gravitational pull is the result of the mass or weight of the Earth and the mass of the satellite. and the satellite's velocity keeps the force of gravity from pulling . The yo-yo ball is the satellite.

which cannot happen as it would get pulled by the earth's . the string would flop towards the .gravity and eventually crash to the surface In fact. This circle . so the place 500 km directly above you will also move in a circle. satellites can either seem. A satellite in orbit travelling towards the east would seem to be moving very slowly to an observer on Earth. On the other hand. This is fairly easy to prove Imagine that you wanted a satellite directly above the place where you are right now. a satellite moving toward the west would seem to be moving quickly to someone on Earth.ground Since the Earth turns from west to east on its axis. Now we know that the earth is rotating. From Earth.off into space. there cannot be a geostationary satellite << anywhere else. except above the equator(in an equatorial …orbit). and that's a . basically because it would have to be at rest. to be moving very quickly or very slowly.geostationary orbit Is it possible to have a geostationary satellite over *!?the poles There cannot be a geostationary satellite at the poles. but without the weight and forward motion of the yo-yo ball. from Earth. there is only one orbit that would seem like it wasn't moving. let's say 500 km away.

Now if this force were to act as the centripetal force for the motion we want for our satellite.has its center somewhere on the rotational axis of the earth(Not necessarily coinciding with the center of the . there is a force acting on it directed towards the earth's center.earth) If you want your satellite to move on that path. leading us to the fact that a geostationary orbit has to necessarily be an equatorial . the orbit's center would have to coincide with the earth's center.orbit . It will require a centripetal force continuously acting towards that center. Now if a satellite is purely under the influence of earth's gravity.

This is the ideal location to park a stationary satellite. they would have to move at a speed of about 7.000 mph at the equator. That is about the same speed as the GPS satellites that orbit the earth twice a day.000 mph to maintain a stationary orbit above a fixed point on the earth. If the geostationary satellites were moving. However.them in their assigned slot According to the heliocentric theory..000 miles (35. very precise and any movement of the satellite .At exactly 22.engine to maintain their orbit .900 km) above the equator. GPS satellites are equipped with a rocket . the earth's force of gravity is canceled by the centrifugal force of the rotating universe. the earth is moving at about 1.would cause a loss of the signal Stationary satellites need very small motors to keep << . The signal to the satellite is very.