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GEO vs MEO vs LEO vs Molniya satellite

This page covers comparison between GEO vs MEO vs LEO vs Molniya satellites and provide difference between GEO satellite, MEO satellite, LEO satellite and Molniya satellite.


Satellite feature GEO( satellite MEO satellite LEO satellite Molniya satellite
Full form Geostationary Earth Orbit satellite Medium Earth Orbit Satellite Low Earth Orbit Satellite -
Orbital period 24 hours 2 to 8 hours 10 to 40 minutes 24 hours
Satellite height 35,800 km 5000 to 12000 km 500 to 1500 km 40000 km
Satellite life Long Long Short Long
Propagation loss Highest high least High to medium
Number of satellites 3 8 to 20 40 to 80 3
Advantages •Covers large geographical area, Only three GEO satellites are needed to cover earth.
•Visible for 24 hours from fixed location on earth
•Ideal for satellite broadcast and multipoint communication
•With MEO satellite lesser number of satellite network required compared to LEO satellite to cover the area.
•Lesser time delay in the signal compared to GEO satellite
•LEO satellite provides better signal strength.
•Least signal propagation delay since it is closest to earth.
•Used for specific purpose by USSR to cover inaccessible area at higher latitude.
•Molniya satelite is less costly to place in the orbit compared to GEO satellite
•Molniya satellite is Very useful in the polar region
Disadvantages •Considerable time delay in the signal, which is not favourable for point to point communication.
•Since it is above the equator, it faces difficulty in broadcasting near polar region.
•Weaker signal compared to LEO since it is higher orbit than LEO
•Visible for only 2 to 8 hours from a particular location on earth.
•A very large number of satellites network is required, thus it is very costly
•Atmospheric drag effects are more which cause gradual orbital disorientation
•only visible for 15 to 20 minutes from a particular area.
•Ground station needs steerable antenna to track the spacecraft.
•Satellite remains fixed for only 8 hours relative to the earth.

LEO vs MEO vs GEO orbits

The figure depicts satellite orbits LEO, MEO, HEO and GEO with type of satellites launched in it.


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