Home Aerospace Why Are Satellites in Space

Why Are Satellites in Space

0
Why Are Satellites in Space

As of May 2022, 5465 satellites in space were active. A majority of these were owned by the US, followed by China. These were all in different Earth orbits and served their specific purpose. 

These satellites are used for weather forecasting, navigation, communication, surveillance, and exploration. They provide important information to their ground stations which then use the information to form weather forecasts, help improve maps and navigation systems, secure borders, improve global communication, and aid in research projects. 

The article explores how satellites function and who sends them out there in the deep, vast void. 

Satellites

A satellite is any object in space and in orbit, i.e., revolves around another bigger object. They are categorized into two types: natural satellites and artificial satellites. 

Natural satellites are naturally existing objects like the moon, which orbits around a bigger object: the Earth. The exact number of natural satellites is unknown, but the number of satellites for each planet ranges from one to more than a dozen. 

On the other hand, artificial satellites are made on Earth and launched into space to fulfill specific purposes. The first artificial satellite to be sent to space was Sputnik, launched in 1957. Following this, different countries sent hundreds of more satellites with varying sizes and shapes.  

But why was there a need to send objects to space? Below we discuss five reasons why satellites are sent to space. 

Weather Forecasting

One of the most crucial ways satellites help the Earth is by helping us monitor and predict weather patterns and climate hazards. Two types of environmental satellites are used to fulfill this aim: Geostationary and Polar Operational. 

Geostationary operational environmental satellites (GOES) orbit the Earth above the Earth’s equator at the same speed with which the Earth orbits the Sun. These satellites can keep a close watch on all the changes in weather patterns and are responsible for determining storms, hurricanes, and other severe weather events. 

Polar Operational Environmental Satellites (POES) orbit the Earth in 1.5 hours and image the globe. These images provide information to meteorologists to predict what daily weather conditions will be like. 

Communication

The communication that is held on Earth is with the help of communication satellites. These satellites relay and amplify radio telecommunication signals through a transponder, building a connection between the source and receiver. 

There are hundreds of communication satellites in space; some orbit the Earth at the same speed as the Earth’s orbit, while others do not. Communication satellites are widely used for satellite phones, TVs, the internet, other satellites, and military purposes. 

Signal interference is an issue that was experienced, but organizations monitored the issue and allocated specific bands to each satellite or source. 

Navigation

A big network of satellites is employed to carry out satellite navigation, allowing people on Earth to look at maps and navigate their way around. The most commonly used service is the GPS which employs 31 satellites. 

The GPS receiver calculates its distance from each satellite and determines the receiver’s exact location on Earth by using multiple processes. This then helps to provide precise directions to the receiver’s destination. GPS devices determine the speed, earliest arrival time, and even the traffic you may experience en route. 

GPS tracking is now available in most devices we use daily; the use is seamless and almost always accurate. 

Surveillance

The security and surveillance of countries are heavily dependent on satellites and the information they provide. This information is used in planning processes to secure borders or nations. 

Satellites equipped with imaging technology can capture high-resolution images of the Earth’s surface, which can be used to track the movement of vehicles, people, and goods. Nations can use this information for border security, military surveillance, and monitoring of natural resources and the environment.

Moreover, satellites can also use other sensors to detect and monitor various phenomena, such as infrared sensors for thermal imaging, radar sensors for detecting movement and measuring distances, and communication sensors for monitoring signals and transmissions.

Satellite surveillance has successfully detected illegal activities in remote areas and even measured the impact of war and displacement. However, satellite surveillance has raised many concerns about the privacy and security of monitored individuals and regions. 

Exploration

So far, we have discussed how satellites provide information about the Earth; satellites are also sent to space to explore the unknown and find new information. 

The most interesting information that satellites have brought pertains to the different planets, their shapes, their moons, the composition of air, the geology, and much more. This information checks if human space expeditions can be sent to these planets to explore the area further. 

Rich data in images and maps have been collected over the years. With the evolution of exploratory satellites, the quality of this information is expected to increase and aid us even more. 

To understand how important space exploration is, take a look at this while you read: 

Who Sends Satellites To Space?

Knowing who controls and sends out all the satellites in space is important. 

The three major categories involved in this are the UNOOSA, government space agencies for each country, and upcoming private organizations that want to explore space or provide services through their satellites.  

International Organizations

The United Nations Office For Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) is the sole international organization that delves into sending satellites to space. The primary goal of this organization is to keep matters peaceful across all nations as they launch their missions to space. 

The UNOOSA also makes laws for space exploration and determines the limits and rules for how much information can be collected. 

Government Agencies

Each country has its government agency, which is responsible for exploring space. Space exploration and launching satellites are seen as a huge sign of prosperity and scientific progression across the globe. 

Due to this, each country is in a race with the other to ensure that they send out the most satellites, collect the most data, and make the most forthcoming discoveries. 

Private Companies

As technology advances, more and more independent companies have launched which have the means to launch themselves into space. 

Some of these companies are called SpaceX and Boeing. Despite being independent and private, these companies collaborate with governments to provide services through their satellites. 

Final Thoughts

Satellites are arguably one of the biggest advancements in technology, which have elevated the provision of services and the amount of ease by a huge margin. 

However, with each advancement comes a myriad of limitations; space laws continue to navigate the breach of privacy through satellites but cannot fully control it.