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Questions tagged [artificial-satellite]

Questions about objects in orbit which are human made, such as communications and GPS satellites, orbital observatories and space stations, and other man-made object in permanent or semi-permanent orbits around the Earth, other celestial objects, aside from the Sun, or even other satellites. Not to be confused with non-orbited man-made objects in space, that are usually referred to as "probes", or simply "spacecraft".

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76 votes
3 answers
55k views

Was the NOAA-N Prime satellite really dropped on the floor?

Recently, Donald.McLean posted this image in The Pod Bay, the site chat room: It's a rather disturbing image once you think about it for more than about half a second. Did it really happen? What ...
user avatar
52 votes
3 answers
4k views

In what state are satellites left in when they are left in a graveyard orbit?

I had this idea for a fictional scenario in which a forgotten satellite, like a communications satellite that was decommissioned because it was replaced by a newer model, was hacked into and then ...
Greg's user avatar
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48 votes
1 answer
5k views

Are there any satellites in geosynchronous but not geostationary orbits?

I know there are a lot of geostationary satellites out there, but I'm wondering - are there any geosynchronous satellites that are not geostationary (ie - have a notable inclination to their orbit)?
ThePiachu's user avatar
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47 votes
8 answers
13k views

What would be the (most difficult) challenge to make a 10,000 year satellite?

Update: Bezos' recent Tweeted update on the 10,000 year clock. Also see The Verge's Construction begins on Jeff Bezos’ $42 million 10,000-year clock The discussions associated with the question Can ...
uhoh's user avatar
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45 votes
7 answers
20k views

Why do artificial satellites need orbit correction, but natural ones don't?

No matter how much you fine-tune a satellite's orbit up front, it needs periodic adjustments. It's usually done through tiny rocket bursts. The system and fuel to do that costs money and weight, and, ...
Emilio M Bumachar's user avatar
43 votes
3 answers
28k views

Why are the GPS constellation satellites in such a high orbit?

Most satellites are in Low Earth Orbit. Some other satellites are in Geostationary Orbit because their function requires it. The GPS (and other GNSS, e.g. GLONASS) satellites are in a much higher ...
Max Q Lagrange's user avatar
43 votes
2 answers
5k views

Would we be able to detect an extraterrestrial "Voyager" if it came near us?

Attached to the Voyager probes are the golden records, which are essentially messages-in-a-bottle sent out into the vast sea of interstellar space, containing, of course, the "message of humanity". ...
Arturo don Juan's user avatar
42 votes
6 answers
56k views

How does GPS receiver synchronize time with GPS satellites?

GPS satellites transmit time values regularly, but if we put in consideration the time delay between the satellite and the receiver, the time value received wouldn't be accurate insofar as I know GPS ...
digiogi's user avatar
  • 593
41 votes
6 answers
21k views

Does a satellite naturally turn in phase with its orbit, always facing Earth?

Assume you want a satellite to constantly point its radio dish towards Earth while orbiting it, or its solar panels towards the Sun if it is instead orbiting it. Is any of the following true about ...
LocalFluff's user avatar
38 votes
2 answers
5k views

Is it possible to observe space debris with Binoculars?

Recently I've started to observe satellites with my 20x80 Binoculars. I'm amazed by the fact I can clearly track satellites and rocket bodies at 2000 km altitude (I've reached 8 mag with some objects) ...
Swike's user avatar
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36 votes
3 answers
4k views

Have any satellites been lost or damaged on their way to the launch site (ground/sea transport)?

On our sister site Travel Stack Exchange, someone asked about carrying a cubesat on a plane in hand luggage and is worried about damage or loss (or not being allowed on the plane). Several answers ...
gerrit's user avatar
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36 votes
5 answers
13k views

Is photography from a satellite good enough to make out a person on the ground?

When I first saw Google Maps satellite view many years ago, I remember being greatly impressed (and somewhat surprised) with the image quality, considering the photographs came from up there in space. ...
wim's user avatar
  • 465
34 votes
1 answer
5k views

Why were early Soviet spacecraft spherical?

Sputnik's ball shape is instantly recognizable to most of us: I was looking at the Wikipedia page for Luna 1, and saw it was also a ball-shaped spacecraft: Why do these spacecraft have a spherical ...
Max Q Lagrange's user avatar
33 votes
7 answers
5k views

Is it possible to see animals from space?

Will satellite imagery be able to see the backs of big animals such as lions, tigers, elephants, horses or zebras from space when they venture out in the open? I've not been able to find satellite ...
Nederealm's user avatar
  • 435
33 votes
4 answers
11k views

What would one need to do to get an amateur satellite into orbit?

I've recently become interested in amateur satellite packet radio, and I've seen that the bandwidth and thus the bitrate is extremely low on most amateur satellites, not even factoring in noise. So I ...
Steve Mucci's user avatar
32 votes
4 answers
7k views

Is it possible to track an object as small as the Tesla Roadster around the Solar System

I have heard that we will soon lose track of the Tesla Roadster launched with the Falcon Heavy test launch. Yet, we know where Voyager is out beyond the Solar System and we followed other satellites ...
Dan Sorensen's user avatar
  • 3,561
30 votes
4 answers
4k views

What would be the first noticeable consequences to the general public of widespread satellite destruction?

What would most likely be the first thing I, as an average citizen of a developed nation, notice, if within a matter of hours, all major commercial and government satellites were to be destroyed in a ...
Duncan McKirdy's user avatar
30 votes
6 answers
4k views

What is the smallest operational artificial satellite?

Miniaturisation has many advantages, and in recent times, nanosatellites, picosatellites, and femosatellite concepts have emerged. The Wikipedia article on miniaturised satellite has some pointers. ...
gerrit's user avatar
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30 votes
1 answer
5k views

Could a Falcon Heavy really put six GPS Block III satellites in orbit at the same time?

This answer says: GPS Block III satellites are being launched to replace failed or aging Block II satellites, which doesn't require launching more than one at a time. A Falcon Heavy could fill up ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
28 votes
3 answers
6k views

Why does NORAD make TLE data public?

If I understand correctly, NORAD tracks thousands of satellites as well as pieces of space debris and publishes TLE files representing their orbital position and motion that are updated regularly. It ...
Max Hartshorn's user avatar
28 votes
1 answer
11k views

What is the farthest artificial satellite in orbit in our solar system?

When did we send the farthest satellite and what is its role and name ?
Taher's user avatar
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28 votes
4 answers
12k views

Is there any way to find and track Pioneer 10, 11, and Voyager 1, 2?

The space probes Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, Voyager 1, and Voyager 2 are the first man-made devices to have escaped from our solar system. The main problem they face is the lack of power source in them. ...
ReNiSh AR's user avatar
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28 votes
3 answers
4k views

Why is the ribbon of decommissioned geosynchronous satellites skewed?

I was looking at this 3D map of satellites orbiting earth and noticed something interesting. Around the green ring of active geosynchronous satellites, there is a ribbon of what I assume are obsolete ...
EagleV_Attnam's user avatar
28 votes
1 answer
52k views

How many active or inactive artificial satellites are in Mars orbit?

I just read in the BBC news that four nations have placed satellites in Mars orbit. How many active or inactive artificial satellites are there in orbit around Mars (2014)?
James Jenkins's user avatar
28 votes
3 answers
7k views

Does the JWST have a camera to monitor its deployment progress?

The James Webb Space Telescope has a complicated deployment sequence. Beyond data from sensors aboard the spacecraft, does it have any cameras to take pictures of the process?
staticCommand's user avatar
27 votes
3 answers
9k views

Can Voyager 1 reach the Andromeda Galaxy?

Right now, as of 2021, Voyager 1 has left the Solar System. If it has reached such a great distance, is it possible for it to reach the Andromeda Galaxy? Also, will we be able to still be in contact ...
Ishaan Manish's user avatar
27 votes
5 answers
3k views

Are artificial satellites completely sealed or open to space?

Are artificial satellites such as communication or weather satellites completely sealed or are they open to space? (In either case, why? How are their electronics (un)affected? Presumably they can be ...
coleopterist's user avatar
  • 6,063
26 votes
2 answers
4k views

How do we ensure an orbit of a satellite doesn’t interfere with existing ones?

How do we ensure a new orbit/route of a LEO satellite or even a swarm of LEO satellites doesn’t collide with currently existing ones when planning a mission? I’ve thought about running a simulation ...
Andy Tso's user avatar
  • 369
25 votes
4 answers
5k views

Is there a satellite that tracks other satellites?

Is there a satellite that tracks other satellites, or is tracking always done from ground stations? Ground stations can only see a small part of the sky, so a network of stations would be needed. A ...
Dan Sorensen's user avatar
  • 3,561
25 votes
1 answer
6k views

Does anyone who works at SpaceX know the paths of classified payloads?

As SpaceX has launched both NROL-76 and OTV-5, does anyone at SpaceX know the trajectory of the vehicle, or is the falcon upper stage under the direct control of the Air Force?
Jake Blocker's user avatar
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25 votes
1 answer
5k views

What satellites did the Shuttle retrieve from orbit?

Hobbes wrote: The Shuttle was designed for things NASA rarely or never used: [...] The ability to retrieve satellites from orbit was used a few times, but not as often as envisioned. I wasn't ...
SF.'s user avatar
  • 55k
24 votes
3 answers
5k views

What would happen if a satellite took a direct hit from a coronal mass ejection (CME)?

I was wondering what would happen if the average satellite were hit by an average CME. According to wikipedia the average velocity of a CME is 20 to 3,200 km/s. In addition to this it's super-heated, ...
Magic Octopus Urn's user avatar
24 votes
4 answers
7k views

Is the Pi really fit for outer space?

Recently, there has been growing interest in using Raspberry Pis in CubeSats. NASA is even in on the trend. But, considering that outer space is pretty harsh on electronics (i.e. radiation and cosmic ...
Aloha's user avatar
  • 343
24 votes
1 answer
5k views

How did two satellites end up in almost the same orbit except moving in opposite directions?

In a series of four tweets starting with this one (found in 2 satellites will narrowly avoid colliding at 32,800 mph over Pittsburgh on Wednesday) 1/ We are monitoring a close approach event ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
24 votes
1 answer
10k views

Which artificial satellites in lunar orbit are currently active?

Most of artificial satellites of the Moon has depleted their batteries, lost communication, been deorbited or impacted the surface after orbital decay. The list doesn't exactly make it clear which ...
SF.'s user avatar
  • 55k
23 votes
4 answers
24k views

What is the oldest artificial satellite still in use?

Wikipedia states that Vanguard I is the oldest artificial satellite still in orbit. What is the oldest that's still in use?
Don Branson's user avatar
  • 1,214
22 votes
2 answers
4k views

What was the first programming language in space?

Sputnik 1 was the first satellite in space. Did it have a programming language on board or was it purely analog? in 1949 Von Neumann released the language Short Code. Fortran was invented in 1957. ...
CodingMatters's user avatar
22 votes
4 answers
6k views

Why does the U.S. military maintain their own weather satellites?

Why does the U.S. military maintain their own weather satellites like the DMSP Block 5D2? What's the difference to "normal" weather satellites? Do they use other sensors or orbits? If they have ...
mike's user avatar
  • 1,646
22 votes
2 answers
3k views

Did Sputnik 1 have attitude control?

The (currently only) answer to Why did Sputnik 1 have four antennas? discusses how Sputnik 1 had four antennas in order to ensure that the Earth would never be in the null of any of its antennas. ...
user's user avatar
  • 7,310
22 votes
2 answers
8k views

How full is the geostationary belt?

The geostationary ring clearly seen in the above picture looks alarmingly crowded. How full is it? How much space does a satellite in that orbit require to operate safely? Surely, (other) ...
coleopterist's user avatar
  • 6,063
21 votes
2 answers
5k views

How do the Starlink satellites shine?

As we can see the Starlink satellites with the naked eye as they pass by. I was wondering about what makes them visible. Do they have large mirrors that reflect the sunlight making them look as if ...
John's user avatar
  • 1,377
21 votes
3 answers
25k views

How can I plot a satellite's orbit in 3D from a TLE using Python and Skyfield?

I have obtained a Two Line Element (TLE) of a satellite in Earth orbit from Celestrak at https://celestrak.org/NORAD/elements/ and I would like to use it to calculate an orbit. How can I calculate the ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
21 votes
4 answers
7k views

What is the oldest orbital satellite we can contact?

Vanguard 1 holds the record for being in space longer than any other man-made object, along with the upper stage of its booster. It was launched on March 17, 1958, but was last heard from in May of ...
Jerard Puckett's user avatar
20 votes
6 answers
13k views

What artificial satellite has the farthest orbit around the Earth?

What is the furthest Earth orbiting satellite? What is its speed and purpose?
Muze's user avatar
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20 votes
2 answers
1k views

Can spacecraft be made invisible to stations on Earth?

Can spacecraft be made invisible to ground stations? For example, are spy satellites perhaps equipped with stealth technology to prevent radar tracking? Or is it pointless as they can always be ...
coleopterist's user avatar
  • 6,063
20 votes
2 answers
8k views

How does a single rocket place multiple satellites into orbit?

Nowadays, many rockets transport more than one satellite in orbit. But how does a single rocket place multiple satellites into their orbits? Do all rockets which place multiple satellites into orbit ...
Hash's user avatar
  • 18k
20 votes
1 answer
1k views

What are the end-of-life options for large classified satellites?

The Delta IV Heavy recently launched NORL-65 to a low Earth orbit. Some of these missions will be in the range of 390 km altitude with circular orbits. Plus, the Delta IV Heavy is a big rocket, with ...
AlanSE's user avatar
  • 16.3k
19 votes
8 answers
5k views

How would a long pole be transported to space?

Can a long pole or a set of poles be strapped to the out side of a rocket (like a bottle rocket)or on the nose as an external payload without interfering with the aerodynamics of the rocket? How would ...
Muze's user avatar
  • 1
19 votes
6 answers
5k views

Can you make out the shape of the ISS with the unaided eye as it passes overhead?

Someone claimed to me that they could see the actual shape of the ISS as it passed overhead without use of any optical device. I would think this isn't possible since it is only about 100 meters wide ...
RossV's user avatar
  • 293
19 votes
1 answer
3k views

What is the purpose of the satellite that China is putting in lunar orbit?

I was just reading an article about the satellite that China is putting in Lunar orbit as phase one for their exploration of the far side of the Moon. Is this satellite just to be used as a signal ...
jedicurt's user avatar
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