Geosynchronous Satellite

What Does Geosynchronous Satellite Mean?

A geosynchronous satellite is a satellite that orbits the Earth and gradually repeats its orbit over specific points on the Earth.


Geosynchronous networks are communication networks based on communication through geosynchronous satellites. Geosynchronous orbit is the most common type of orbit for a communication satellite.

The concept of a geostationary satellite for communication purposes was initially published in 1928 by Herman Potocnik. The benefit of this type of satellite is that the receiving antennas can be fixed in place, making them less expensive than tracking antennas. These satellites have also revolutionized television broadcasting, global communications, and weather forecasting.

Techopedia Explains Geosynchronous Satellite

When this type of satellite’s orbit is placed over the equator, the orbit is circular and the angular velocity is identical to the earth’s and the satellite is known as a geostationary satellite. This satellite would be in both a geostationary and geosynchronous orbit. Attributing to synchronization, the satellite appears to be stationary.

These satellites are placed at an altitude of approximately 22,000 miles directly over the equator and revolve in the same direction as earth rotates from west to east. At this altitude, it takes the satellite 24 hours to circle the earth.

If a geosynchronous satellite orbit is not properly aligned with the equator, the orbit is called an inclined orbit. These satellites appear to oscillate daily around a fixed point. When the angle between the orbit and the equator decreases, the magnitude of oscillation becomes smaller. When the orbit lies entirely over the equator, the satellite remains stationary in relation to the earth’s surface and the orbit is known as a geostationary orbit.

The majority of telecommunication satellites use the geostationary orbit, as the speed of telecom satellites matches the earth’s rotation speed. As they appear fixed in the sky, it’s easy to point a satellite dish to a fixed direction, and satellites can point their telecommunication equipment to fixed points on the ground.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.