Physics - Orbits
This resource covers circular and elliptical orbits. It looks at the
velocity and acceleration of satellites and satellite speed before
finishing with an introduction to Kepler's Laws. Let's begin with orbits
Since the 1950s we have launched thousands of artificial satellites into
space. Some satellites orbit with the same period as the rotation of the
Earth. These are called geostationary satellites because they remain in a
fixed position above the Earth. Australia's AUSSAT satellites maintain a
geostationary orbit above Australia so they can pass communications signals
over great distances. GPS satellites are also geostationary. They broadcast
their position constantly and this information is used by ships and
aeroplanes to find their exact location.
Other artificial satellites orbit at a different rate and direction to the
Earth's spin. These satellites assist with mapping the Earth, predicting
weather, finding minerals and even spying.
The moon is a natural satellite of the Earth. It orbits the Earth about
once every 27.3 days. Most of the planets in the solar system have more
than one moon. Saturn has 22 moons.
The Earth itself is a satellite of the sun. The Earth takes about 365 days
to orbit the sun.
The satallite shown above is AUSSAT - one of Australia's
telecommunication satellites. AUSSAT's orbit keeps it permanently above
Australia and Papua New Guinea
The moon is a natural satellite of the Earth
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