Great Geo-Stuff: Satellites
Great Geo-Stuff: A weekly ode to something geocaching related that we may take for granted but helps make geocaching awesome.
Satellites – they have to be the most taken for granted aspect of geocaching. We spend lots of time comparing and reviewing GPSr‘s but we rarely give any thought to the one thing that really allows us to ramble off into the outdoors and use a piece of technology to track down a little box. So with little fanfare these pieces of hightech equipment float quietly above us in space, feeding out GPSr’s the required information (when there isn’t too much tree cover!).
The first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, was launched by the Soviet Union in 1957. Since then, thousands of satellites have been launched into orbit around the Earth. These originate from more than 50 countries and have used the satellite launching capabilities of ten nations. A few hundred satellites are currently operational, whereas thousands of unused satellites and satellite fragments orbit the Earth as space debris. A few space probes have been placed into orbit around other bodies and become artificial satellites to the Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
Satellites are used for a large number of purposes. Common types include military and civilian Earth observation satellites, communications satellites, navigation satellites, weather satellites, and research satellites. Space stations and human spacecraft in orbit are also satellites. Satellite orbits vary greatly, depending on the purpose of the satellite, and are classified in a number of ways. Well-known (overlapping) classes include low Earth orbit, polar orbit, and geostationary orbit.
To get an idea of how these satellites float around up there I refer you back to a post from early October that brought you the following animated image:
Ahhh, Satellites. Helping us find our way and big brother spy on us since 1957!