<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
Artificial satellites are the backbone of modern communication systems.

The motion of a satellite or space-station is a direct consequence of Earth’s gravity. Once launched in the appropriate orbit, these man-made crafts orbit around Earth without any propulsion. In this module, we shall study basics of satellite motion without going into details of the technology. Also, we shall develop analysis framework of artificial satellite, which can as well be extended to analysis of natural satellite like our moon. For the analysis here, we shall choose a simple framework of “two – body” system, one of which is Earth.

We should be aware that gravity is not the only force of gravitation working on the satellite, particularly if satellite is far off from Earth’s surface. But, Earth being the closest massive body, its gravitational attraction is dominant to the extent of excluding effect of other bodies. For this reason, our analysis of satellite motion as “isolated two body system” is good first approximation.

Mass of artificial satellite is negligible in comparison to that of Earth. The “center of mass” of the “two body system” is about same as the center of Earth. There is possibility of different orbits, which are essentially elliptical with different eccentricity. A satellite close to the surface up to 2000 km describes nearly a circular trajectory. In this module, we shall confine ourselves to the analysis of satellites having circular trajectory only.

Speed of the satellite

Satellites have specific orbital speed to move around Earth, depending on its distance from the center of Earth. The satellite is launched from the surface with the help of a rocket, which parks it in particular orbit with a tangential speed appropriate for that orbit. Since satellite is orbiting along a circular path, there is requirement for the provision of centripetal force, which is always directed towards the center of orbit. This requirement of centripetal force is met by the force of gravity. Hence,


Gravitational attraction provides for the requirement of centripetal force for circular motion of satellite.

G M m r 2 = m v 2 r

v = G M r

where “M” is Earth’s mass and “r” is linear distance of satellite from the "center of mass" of Earth.

The important thing to realize here are : (i) orbital speed of the satellite is independent of the mass of the satellite (ii) a satellite at a greater distance moves with lesser velocity. As the product “GM” appearing in the numerator of the expression is constant, we can see that

v 1 r

This conclusion is intuitive in the sense that force of gravitation is lesser as we move away from Earth’s surface and the corresponding centripetal force as provided by gravity is smaller. As such, orbital speed is lesser.

This fact has compounding effect on the time period of the satellite. In the first place, a satellite at a greater distance has to travel a longer distance in one revolution than the satellite closer to Earth’s surface. At the same time, orbital speed is lesser as we move away. It is, then, imperative that time period of revolution increases for satellite at greater distance.

Questions & Answers

what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
Privacy Information Security Software Version 1.1a
Got questions? Join the online conversation and get instant answers!
Jobilize.com Reply

Get the best Algebra and trigonometry course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, Gravitation fundamentals. OpenStax CNX. Sep 26, 2007 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10459/1.2
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Gravitation fundamentals' conversation and receive update notifications?