ONR Science & Technology Focus
               Oceanography       Space Sciences       Blow the Ballast!       Teachers' Corner   
Observing the Sky Solar System Satellites Navy Research Resources

The Navy & Satellites - Satellite Orbits

Satellites are placed in one of three basic orbits:

An elliptical orbit is shaped like a squished circle (just like the Earth's orbit). A satellite in this orbit is sometimes closer to Earth than at other times. The point where a satellite's orbit is closest to Earth is called perigee. Where the orbit is farthest away is called apogee.

A circular orbit takes a satellite around the Earth without ever changing its distance from the planet.

Whether an orbit is circular or elliptical, if it passes over the North and South Poles, it is called a polar orbit.

previous page next page