What is a satellite? How Satellites Work?

What is a satellite? In today’s article, we are going to discuss in full detail what is meant by satellite.

In addition, we will discuss what the function of a satellite is and what the benefits of a satellite are.

What is a satellite? How Satellites Work?
What is a satellite?

Everything from our earth to space is shrouded in mystery. Inside this space, there are various types of cosmic objects, one of which is the satellite.

The topic of today’s article is what is the definition of this satellite, what is its function, and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Let us first know the literal meaning of the word satellite.

What is a satellite?

According to NASA or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, a satellite is a type of cosmic object or artificial object that always orbits the center of a planet or star.

According to the agency, the satellite could be a moon, a planet, or even a machine that would specifically orbit a star or planet.

For example, the moon is a satellite of the earth because it orbits the earth.

In general, however, the term “satellite” refers to a machine created by mankind, launched into space, and orbiting the earth or any other object in space.

So by satellite or artificial satellite we mean the machines that we send into space to orbit the earth or the moon or another planet for data collection or communication. This satellite or artificial satellite.

Artificial man-made satellites are mainly used for communication.

Most of the time these satellites are used to transmit TV signals and phone call signals around the world.

According to NASA calculations, a group of more than 20 satellites is still used to create the Global Positioning System or GPS.

And, if you have a GPS receiver, these satellites can help you pinpoint your exact location.

The meaning of the word satellite is:

Although the word satellite is commonly used as an English word, it is actually a French word and in Latin it means follower.

The term satellite was coined by astronomer Johannes Kepler in the 16th century to give an idea of Jupiter’s satellites.

Types of satellites

According to NASA, there are mainly two types of satellites; They are natural and man-made satellites.

The main examples of natural satellites are the earth and the moon.

The earth revolves around the sun and the moon revolves around the earth. Also, our solar system has a total of 181 moons or natural satellites.

There is 1 satellite of Earth, 2 of Mars, 6 of Jupiter, 72 of Saturn, 28 of Uranus, and 13 of Neptune.

On the other hand, man-made satellites come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

These are sent into space for a variety of experimental, data-gathering, and signal transmissions, and for various other purposes.

Since the main topic of our discussion is artificial or man-made satellites, we will find out how many different types of these artificial satellites are in total.

Artificial satellite

The function and type of each of the man-made satellites differ from one another. So they are basically classified according to the type of work they do.

The structure and design are often different based on their work. According to this classification we see a total of 8 types of artificial satellites, they are –

  1. Communication Satellite
  2. Remote Sensing Satellite
  3. Global Positioning System
  4. Drone satellite
  5. Ground satellite
  6. Polar satellites
  7. Nano, Small, and Smart Satellite
  8. Geosynthetic orbit type or geosynchronous satellite

1. Communication Satellite

These are usually relayed from one end of the earth to the other by means of radio telecommunication signal transponders.

2. Remote Sensing Satellite

Remote Sensing Satellite or aircraft-based sensor technology is capable of capturing radar images of the Earth’s surface, atmosphere and oceans without any physical touch with the help of electromagnetic radiation.

These satellites are used in geography, hydrology, ecology, meteorology, oceanography, glacial science, geology, and even for military purposes.

3. Global Positioning System

GPS satellites are primarily navigation system satellites, which, through receivers and using specific algorithms, can provide comparatively accurate information about the exact location, velocity, and time of people, creatures, or inanimate objects in the sky, sea, and land.

Everyone from the general public to the military uses GPS. We see GPS receivers or buttons on different smartwatches or smartphones.

4. Drone Satellite

It is a type of robot unmanned aerial vehicle or spacecraft. The main advantage of these types of satellites is that they are recyclable.

5. Ground Satellite

These types of satellites are located in the heart of the earth and act as signal receivers and transmitters.

Satellite ground stations, therefore, send the information from remote sensing satellites to various users and applications through this ground satellite to collect and stream.

Therefore, a satellite ground station must have a receiving antenna, a feed horn, a waveguide, and a receiver.

We see this type of ground satellite outside the office of various radio offices or TVs.

6. Polar Satellite

This type of satellite is sent to observe the polar regions of the earth.

They orbit the Earth along the polar regions and keep an eye on the Earth’s magnetic field and polar bears or Northern Lights.

7. Nano, Small, and Smart Satellite

There are small and large satellites of different sizes depending on the weight. Satellites can range in weight from less than 1 kg to over 1000 kg.

Satellites can be of many types depending on the distance from the earth.

8. Geocentric Orbit Type or Geosynchronous Satellite

The satellites that orbit the earth in equilibrium with the rotational speed of the earth are the geosynthetic orbit type or geosynchronous satellites.

These satellites are of three types depending on the distance from the earth’s surface.

  • Low Earth Orbit or LEO
  • Medium Earth Orbit or MEO
  • Geostationary satellite

i. Low Earth Orbit or Leo

This artificial satellite is located at a distance of 180 to 2000 km from the earth’s surface. These are parallel to the Earth’s orbit, and because they are the closest to the Earth, they have the best observations.

Basically, telecommunication and internet services depend on this type of satellite.

ii. Medium Earth Orbit or MEO

These types of artificial satellites are very slow-moving and they are located at a distance of 2000 km above the Earth’s surface.

Primarily, GPS satellites are prime examples of this type of satellite.

iii. Geostationary Satellite

Satellites orbit at a very close altitude of only 35,786 km, which is fixed above a longitude in the Earth’s equator.

When ground observers see these types of artificial satellites, they see them motionless and fixed in a certain place in the sky.

These satellites provide visible and infrared images of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere by observing the Earth’s climate, oceanography, and atmospheric levels. In the case of this satellite, the antenna is stationary.

Satellites communicate using radio waves to send signals to the earth’s antennas.

Antennas then capture those signals and process the information coming from those signals. Information may include:

How does a satellite send information?

Radio waves are transmitted to the earth’s antennas via satellite signals.

And, the antennas then receive the transmitted signals and turn them into intelligible information.

That information may include scientific information (such as satellite imagery), the current state of the satellite, and the location of that satellite in space.

What is the part of the satellite?

Satellites are specially made of metal, which is why such spacecraft are made of hard metal titanium or an alloy of aluminum.

Satellites are usually powered by solar energy, so they have powerful solar cells attached to them. Also, this device has a cadmium battery and power bus.

In any artificial satellite –

  • An antenna,
  • A radio transmitter is used to download command uplinking commands and information,
  • A computer chip,
  • A power system, (solar cell),
  • A battery,
  • A power bus, and
  • Sensor.

History of Satellite

The world’s first satellite is called Sputnik 1 satellite. It was launched by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957.

Weighing 173 pounds, the satellite took 98 minutes to orbit the earth once.

This was the first step in the development of military, political science, and information technology in the world.

The chief designer of this satellite was  Sergei Korolev . Work on the artificial satellite began in 1952, several years before that.

When the International Council of the Scientific Union declared July 1, December 31, 1957, and 1958 as the year of International Geophysics.

The second artificial satellite was named Sputnik-2. It was also launched on November 2 of the same year.

The first satellite launched by the United States was called Explorer-1.

The first manned satellite, Vostok 1, orbited space. And the first man to go into space was Yuri Gagarin.

Man-made satellites come in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes it takes months or even years to build a satellite.

During this long period of time, various experiments are being carried out on whether it can stand properly or adapt to the difficult environment of space.

By the end of the 20th century, about 2,200 artificial satellites had orbited the entire universe.

 And these satellites are providing scientific information with images that have never been imagined before.

However, 50 percent of the satellites orbiting in space are from the United States.

However, the more advantage of satellites is that they show a wealth of natural resources that are not even visible to the human eye.

The path that satellites orbit in space is called the orbit.

These satellites are divided into three parts according to their height from the surface. High orbit, middle orbit, or low orbit.

What are satellite uplink and downlink?

In satellite telecommunications, when a satellite is given a command from the earth’s ground satellite station, it is Uplink.

And when the receiver uses the satellite to send or relay information to the ground stations, it is a downlink.

This uplink and downlink method allows us to receive or send satellite information.

What does a satellite do?

These artificial satellites have several jobs to be done, they are –

  1. The main task of the satellite is to orbit the earth non-stop and to inform the scientists of the earth about the details that are happening outside the earth and in space.
  2. Earth’s weather, atmosphere, and every geographical information are sent to scientists in the form of pictures. With remote sensing, satellites are able to capture radar images of everything from the world’s oceans to deep seas.
  3. With the help of the Global Positioning System, the military power is easily able to keep an eye on the movements of the enemy.
  4. Everything from TV signals, radio signals to mobile signals is almost entirely dependent on satellite signaling.
  5. The main function of many satellites is nuclear monitoring.

Usage of satellites

There are basically three things that people have to rely on to use satellites in the world, they are –

  1. The weather
  2. Communication system
  3. Search

1. Weather

Climate monitoring satellites are constantly sending information about the Earth’s weather, and countless pieces of information from around the world report to us 24 hours a day.

This information includes detailed information about temperature, precipitation, wind speed, and cloud type.

Meteorologists use this information to forecast their weather.

People are being warned long before a catastrophic natural disaster occurs, especially using high-quality satellites.

It is possible to save the lives of many people.

2. Communication system

With the help of a communication satellite, it is becoming possible to easily relay information from one part of the world to another.

These satellites are usually geosynchronous.

That is, these artificial satellites revolve in their orbits in such a way that they always keep pace with the earth and stay in the same place along with the earth.

These satellites handle telephone signals, mobile communications, and coast radio from ships.

Also, communication satellites relay from television and radio signal broadcast points to stations across the country.

3. Search

Another important function of a satellite is to explore the Earth and other planets. In addition, scientists rely heavily on these satellites to create maps.

Many satellites have state-of-the-art cameras capable of sending still and video images of the planet’s surface to Earth scientists.

Infrared images are also able to accurately detect the heat and cold of the earth.

Moreover, scientists are able to use satellite images to track remote areas, such as polar ice caps, even if they cannot physically reach them.

Today’s exploration satellites are capable of sending clear images of the constellations and stars that are not affected or destroyed by the Earth’s atmosphere.

The advantage of a satellite

There are several advantages to satellite communication –

  • This satellite system runs almost entirely on solar energy, so there is no possibility of wasting limited energy.
  • Ground stations are easily transportable. So if there is a possibility of danger, those stations can be easily removed.
  • Satellite transmissions can cover many geographical areas at once.
  • The use of this satellite in wireless and mobile communication is very fast, accurate, and easy.
  • This medium is much less expensive to send messages from one end of the earth to the other.
  • Security in satellite transmissions is usually provided by coding and decoding equipment, which is much more secure.
  • This type of communication system is much easier and less expensive to maintain.

The disadvantage of the satellite

There are also several disadvantages to this satellite communication –

  • The cost of designing, manufacturing, and maintaining satellite devices is much higher.
  •  Repairing and maintaining these devices is not easy.
  • These instruments need to be constantly monitored and controlled so that they do not move out of orbit
  • Excessive sunlight and adverse weather can cause problems with satellite signals.


This is the end of today’s article about satellites.

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