Geostationary and geosynchronous satellites

In this post, we will learn about Geostationary and geosynchronous satellites, and also will find out the relationship and differences between Geostationary and geosynchronous satellites.


geosynchronous satellite

A geosynchronous satellite has a period of exactly 1 day so that it passes over a fixed point on the Earth’s surface at the same time each day but does not remain constant over that point. (figure 1)

figure 1: geosynchronous satellites
figure 1: geosynchronous satellites

geostationary satellite

A special case of the geosynchronous satellite is the geostationary satellite (Figure 2).

Geostationary satellite gets its name from the fact that it is launched into an equatorial orbit with a period of exactly 1 day and so when viewed from any point on the Earth’s surface it remains constantly in a fixed position. This type of satellite is used for communications.

figure 2: A Geostationary satellite
figure 2: A Geostationary satellite

Relationship between geosynchronous satellite and geostationary satellite

The Geostationary satellite is a special case of the geosynchronous satellite. Both of these have 1 earth day as the orbital period.

Difference between geosynchronous satellite and geostationary satellite

Geosynchronous satellite passes over a fixed point on the Earth’s surface at the same time each day but does not remain constant over that point. (figure 1)

The Geostationary satellite is launched into an equatorial orbit with a period of exactly 1 day and so when viewed from any point on the Earth’s surface it remains constantly in a fixed position. (figure 2)

Properties of Geostationary satellites (for the Earth)

Geostationary satellites (for the Earth) have the following properties:

  • Their orbit lies in the same plane as the equator of the Earth.
  • The satellite period is one Earth day.
  • They have the same angular velocity as the Earth.
  • They move around their orbit in the same direction as the rotation of the Earth.
  • They remain above a fixed point on the Earth’s surface.
  • They have an orbit centered on the center of the Earth.

Geostationary and geosynchronous satellites
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