synchronous orbit

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An orbit of the earth made by an artificial satellite with a period exactly equal to the earth's period of rotation on its axis, i.e. 23 hours 56 minutes 4.1 seconds. If the orbit is inclined to the equatorial plane the satellite will appear from the earth to trace out a figure-of-eight track once every 24 hours. If the orbit lies in the equatorial plane and is circular, the satellite will appear to be stationary. This is called a stationary orbit (or geostationary orbit or parking orbit) and it occurs at an altitude of 35 900 km. Most communication satellites are in stationary orbits, with three or more spaced round the orbit to give worldwide coverage.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics — Physics.

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