• Question: @Camilla do you make geostationary or polar satellites?

    Asked by Ana JK to Camilla on 24 Jun 2015.
    • Photo: Camilla Weiss

      Camilla Weiss answered on 24 Jun 2015:

      Hi Ana! These two orbits are really useful in different ways. In a polar orbit the Earth rotates under the satellites so you can eventually get a complete image of the whole Earth in about a day – both night time and day time images. A lot of our satellites are imaging satellites and they use optical imagers (like a camera) so they need sunlight to get a good image. For this reason most of our satellites go into a sun-synchronous orbit, which is a slightly tilted polar orbit. This means the satellite follows the sun as it travels across the Earth and so you always get daylight images. These orbits are quite low – usually about 400-700km above the Earth. Geostationary satellites are also really useful because they stay over the same point on Earth all the time. This makes them great for communications, because you don’t want you communications satellite wandering off when you’re trying to use it! Geostationary satellites sit in a really high orbit – about 36,000km above the Earth! They tend to be big because they need a lot of fuel to get to this orbit and also to stay in exactly the right spot. At my company we’re building a smaller version of a geostationary satellite which we hope to launch in the next few years – it will be our first so it’s quite exciting!