Friday, August 30, 2002


Okay, so what was that about a geosynchronous orbit? Well, to always be able to talk to a satellite, it helps for it to appear to stand still in the sky above you. So what you want is for a satellite to orbit the earth in the same direction as the earth rotates, and to do so exactly as fast as the earth is rotating. It still orbits, but it's always at the same location in the sky relative to an earthly observer. This kind of orbit is called geosynchronous. ("geo" meaning earth, "synchronous" meaning lined up with, or synchronized; together, it means the satellite's orbit is lined up with the earth.) This way, you aim your satellite dish once, and can always have 150 channels (and nothing on).

In fact, due to our communication needs, (between watching TV, talking on the phone, and surfing the web), we've got just scads of commsats up in geosync orbits. If you were to see them up there, they would look roughly like a band of beads wrapped around the earth.

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