An Overview of Satellite Systems

By: Robert Thomson


Whenever you use your cell phone or check the weather, you are availing of one of the many different types of satellite systems orbiting the Earth. As an overview of these systems will show, these machines play an important role in our everyday lives.

There are of course, several types of satellite systems floating around the Earth today, but the following are among the most useful and beneficial, and for those that have little knowledge about satellites, the role they play may come as a surprise.

The first is the GEO (geosynchronous) satellite system. These are usually positioned over the Earth’s equator, and are kept there for certain intervals. Unlike other systems, they do not require any tracking or relaying. These satellite systems are best used for checking weather systems. As such they are indispensable for tracking typhoons, hurricanes, tornadoes and other weather disturbances. Another function of GEO systems is transmitting TV signals.

The LEO satellite systems, or Low Earth Orbit, are similar to the GEO, but are more advanced. Today their main function is to enable the use of mobile and satellite phones. These are usually positioned some 1,500 km above the surface of the Earth.

The MEO satellite system refers to the Medium Earth Orbit, and is positioned some 10,000 km above the planet. More powerful than the LEO, they are capable of generating and delivering more data at higher velocities and with a better quality.

The Highly Elliptical Orbit, or HEO satellite systems provide one of the widest perspectives and views of the planet and is used for analyzing whole areas. Other satellites that are indispensable in today’s world include the TVRO (TV Receive Only), used by TVs linked to satellite dishes; DBS, or Direct Broadcast Satellite, is also used for television, while multibeam satellites are used to link up other satellites.

Another type of satellite system that is popular is the GPS (global positioning system). Users of cell phones and other such devices know this well, as it is used for giving and providing directions.

What actually happens here is that the device gets a signal from one of the GPS systems and uses the information that it receives to pinpoint this or that location. The exact method in which the cell phone receives the information will vary according to the manufacturer, but the basic processes are the same, and they all make use of the GPS.

The speed with which the information is relayed back to your cell phone is testament to the extent in which technology has improved. The same can be said of course for the satellites that are used for predicting and evaluating the weather. Even though these systems are not yet perfect, they are always improving, and it has to be admitted that most of the time, these devices have proven very efficient in tracking hurricanes and other cyclones.

As science and technology increase and advance, expect the satellite systems to grow in proficiency and efficiency. As the world becomes increasingly more reliant on gadgets, these systems will play even more important roles.

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Will Spencer is a computer expert and technology consultant and has written articles like Satellite Systems Info and FCC ID Info for Tech FAQ web site. Visit An Overview of Satellite Systems.

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