RICK KOHRS / SSEC / NOAA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY RICK KOHRS / SSEC / NOAA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Animation of the orbits of different types of Earth observation satellite. The static satellites are in a geostationary orbit, whose period is exactly one day, meaning they stay above the same spot on Earth. This allows them to collect a continuous stream of data for one location. The geostationary orbit has to be 35,786 kilometres above the equator. The other orbits are polar orbits, which are around 800 kilometres above the Earth's surface, and take roughly 100 minutes to orbit. These orbits allow the satellite to pass over successive regions at the same local time each day, covering the whole Earth in one day.
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